Please answer the following question based on chapter 7 of The Great Gatsby. At the end of this chapter, Nick leaves Gatsby standing and staring at Daisy and Tom's house. Nick explains that Gatsby wanted to wait alone, "as though my presence marred the sacredness of his vigil. So I walked away and left him standing there in the moonlight—watching over nothing." Comment on this presentation of Gatsby.

As Gatsby waits outside of the Buchanan household, Nick uses religious diction to describe his sacred vigil. By using religious diction, Gatsby is depicted as a faithful pilgrim on a quest for the holy grail. In this particular scene, Gatsby is portrayed as a hopeless romantic who is desperately trying to preserve his dream. Tragically, Nick and the audience recognize that Gatsby's dream is illusory, and Daisy has no intention of leaving her husband.

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The presentation of Gatsby in this passage highlights both the intensity of his hopes and the emptiness of his reality. The use of the words “sacredness” and “vigil” highlight the intense faith Gatsby has that he can one day rekindle his relationship with Daisy . It is as though he...

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The presentation of Gatsby in this passage highlights both the intensity of his hopes and the emptiness of his reality. The use of the words “sacredness” and “vigil” highlight the intense faith Gatsby has that he can one day rekindle his relationship with Daisy. It is as though he feels by standing there alone, uninterrupted by anything or anyone that could cause him to lose focus on her, nothing can stop him. Such a presentation highlights Gatsby’s blind trust in his ability to make his dream happen for himself. This trust is symbolic of society’s faith in the American dream, that anyone can be anything in America if they work hard enough.

However, Gatsby’s religious-like focus on his dream is starkly contrasted with the abrupt depiction at the end of this quote. Fitzgerald switches from describing Gatsby as overlooking a religious ritual in the “moonlight” to revealing that he was, in fact, “watching over nothing.” This shift symbolizes the stark reality underlying Gatsby’s dream and by extension, the American dream. That even though the belief that uninterrupted hard work can definitely lead to success may seem beautiful, it is in fact not a reality. It is as if this belief is drenched in “moonlight,” well lit by society, marketed to us to be as rewarding as faith in a religion. But in the end, it was never really a possibility at all.

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Toward the end of chapter 7, Nick is surprised to discover that Jay Gatsby is hiding in the Buchanan bushes, keeping watch over the house to protect Daisy from Tom if he becomes aggressive. At this point in the story, Gatsby has already been exposed as a bootlegger, and Daisy accidentally ran over Myrtle. Gatsby is not only willing to take the blame for Myrtle's death but continues to hold onto his illusory dream of winning Daisy's heart. After Gatsby explains to Nick why he is watching over the home, Nick looks into the window and sees Tom and Daisy casually sitting opposite of each other at the dinner table. According to Nick, Tom and Daisy seem content and look like they are "conspiring together."

When Nick returns to Gatsby, he encourages him to go home, but Gatsby refuses to abandon his dream by telling Nick that he will stay there until Daisy goes to bed. Gatsby then turns toward the Buchanan household, and Nick likens his behavior to a sacred vigil. By using religious diction, Nick is comparing Gatsby's quest for Daisy to a religious crusade or search for the holy grail. Gatsby is portrayed as a faithful pilgrim and hopeless romantic who refuses to give up on his illusory dream. Nick recognizes that Daisy has no intention of leaving Tom, but Gatsby cannot accept the harsh reality of the situation. The image of Gatsby waiting outside depicts him as a desperate, naive man, whose love for Daisy is sincere and pure. Tragically, Daisy does not reciprocate Gatsby's feelings and skips town with her husband shortly after Gatsby's death.

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Gatsby waits in the dark outside of Tom and Daisy's house because he believes that he is keeping Daisy safe from Tom. He still believes that Daisy loves him and will leave Tom to be with him; so he keeps his "vigil" outside her window, still thinking of himself as her hero.

The quest to attain Daisy has become "sacred" to Gatsby, but the cruel irony is that Gatsby keeps his vigil and his hopes alive for nothing; Daisy is in no danger from Tom, and she does not seem to have any intention to leave Tom either. Instead of fighting—or Daisy packing her bags—she and Tom sit on either side of some fried chicken and beers, with Tom "talking intently" and "earnest[ly]" and Daisy "nodd[ing] in agreement" with him. Nick remarks of this scene, "There was an unmistakable air of natural intimacy about the picture and anybody would have said that they were conspiring together."

Therefore, what feels so sacred to Gatsby has already been forgotten by Daisy.

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You have identified an excellent part of this chapter to comment on. Note how Nick's comments regarding Gatsby's actions in staying by Daisy's house and watching over her, in case she needs him, are described in explicitly religious terms by the use of the words "vigil" and "sacredness." Yet again, Gatbsy is presented as a fervently devoted knight errant, determined to do whatever it takes to gain his "holy grail" and marry Daisy. The dream of gaining Daisy is shown through this diction to have assumed a monumental importance in his life. He is willing to sacrifice everything to gain it and to go through any hardship to achieve it. Yet, inspite of this impressive dedication, Nick sees through his actions and recognises that Gatsby is actually "watching over nothing." Although Gatbsy still has such high hopes, Nick now sees that his dreams are destined for destruction and have no chance of actually becoming real. Thus Gatsby is presented with all of his capacity of hope in tact, even when it is clear to us and to Nick that his hope is profoundly misplaced.

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