The climax of a story brings closure to the main source of conflict. So, to find the climax, first determine what the main conflict is and then consider how you know that conflict is resolved. The climax is the point of high action that usually comes just before this and...
The climax of a story brings closure to the main source of conflict. So, to find the climax, first determine what the main conflict is and then consider how you know that conflict is resolved. The climax is the point of high action that usually comes just before this and is typically situated near the end of the novel or story.
The conflict driving this novel is Gatsby's quest for Daisy's love. Most of the action in the book centers on his pursuit of her, which began long before this book's primary plot line. Gatsby has been acquiring wealth for years in an effort to ultimately be the man he thinks Daisy wants.
Near the end, we find Gatsby sitting outside Daisy's house, not inside it. He is protecting her from afar, still clinging to hope that she will return to him. However, it is clear to readers at this point that Daisy has chosen to remain with Tom. This is how we know that the conflict is over. How did we arrive at that conclusion?
Gatsby and Tom finally confront each other just prior to this scene, both trying to lay claim to Daisy. Gatsby presses Daisy to tell her husband that she loves Gatsby—not Tom. And Daisy finally admits that she loves them both. This takes Gatsby by surprise, and then Tom proceeds to rip apart Daisy's image of Gatsby by attacking his respectability:
"I found out what your 'drug-stores' were." He turned to us and spoke rapidly. "He and this Wolfsheim bought up a lot of side-street drug-stores here and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter. That's one of his little stunts."
It's effective, and Daisy begins to visibly retreat from Gatsby:
But with every word she was drawing further and further into herself, so he gave that up and only the dead dream fought on as the afternoon slipped away, trying to touch what was no longer tangible, struggling unhappily, undespairingly, toward that lost voice across the room.
Tom throws one final verbal punch, "allowing" Gatsby to ride home alone with his wife, to show what little concern he has that his wife will chose anyone but her husband.
Of course, Daisy then hits Myrtle on the way home.
This brings the beginnings of closure to Gatsby's dreams, as the reader realizes that Daisy will never be his. This section is, therefore, the climax.