What role does weather play in The Great Gatsby?

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Fitzgerald often uses the weather in the novel to emphasize the way the characters are feeling. For example, on the day when Gatsby expects to be reunited with Daisy, he is a nervous wreck and the weather is likewise unstable. It is raining cats and dogs when Daisy arrives—and then Gatsby pretends to arrive—at Nick's house. Similarly, Gatsby is so nervous and unsteady that he acts a little rudely, knocks Nick's clock off the mantel, and can hardly behave remotely normally. However, once things begin to go more smoothly between Daisy and Gatsby, the weather also starts to clear up. Soon, the sun comes out, and Nick realizes that Gatsby himself seems to be glowing.

Further, on the day of the awkward confrontation between Gatsby, Daisy's lover, and Tom, Daisy's husband, in New York City, it is horrifyingly hot, as if to echo and even exacerbate the tensions between the characters. Tom discovers that Daisy and Gatsby are having an affair, and just as things begin to feel more intense, the whole party decides to drive to the city, where it will inevitably be hotter. Tensions rise with the temperature, and the whole thing blows up while the group drinks at the hotel downtown. Gatsby and Daisy confront Tom, but then Tom shares his knowledge of Gatsby's illegal activities, and this upsets Daisy so much that she accidentally hits Myrtle Wilson with the car as she drives it home.

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Fitzgerald uses the weather throughout the novel to amplify the mood of the narrative. As Nick arrives in West Egg in the first chapter, the season is late spring, moving into summer, and Nick observes that "with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees . . . I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer." Nick sees his move as a fresh start after completing his education and war service; his intention is to become a success on Wall Street.

Gatsby's parties at his mansion next door to Nick's bungalow rage throughout the summer, with much of the action taking place outdoors on his lawn and beach. Guests swim and boat in the day and mingle outdoors at night.

On the day that Gatsby reunites with Daisy in chapter five, the weather reflects the mood. Neither Nick nor Gatsby know how the surprise reunion will turn out, and the uncertainty and heightened emotions are reflected in the way that the rain comes and goes throughout the day. The weather alternates between downpours and drizzles as Daisy and Gatsby work through their emotions of sorrow, regret, hope, and joy. Once they have reached a stable emotional state and leave Nick's bungalow for Gatsby's mansion, the skies clear briefly, and then a gentle rain begins again when Nick leaves them alone together.

In the novel's climactic chapter seven, the weather is brutally, punishingly hot and humid. Nick calls it "broiling." The tension between Gatsby and Tom Buchanan builds throughout the day as they drink gin rickeys and ale to try to cope with their barely concealed anger. When (counterintuitively) Gatsby, Daisy, Nick, Tom, and Jordan head into Manhattan and take a parlor room at the Plaza, it is so hot that Daisy insists they "open another window." The ensuing showdown between Tom and Gatsby is as superheated as the weather.

The day of Gatsby's funeral is another rainy day, deepening the sorrowful mood as Nick tries vainly to find people to come to pay their respects. He and Owl Eyes attend, and "the rain poured down his thick glasses and he took them off and wiped them to see the protecting canvas unrolled from Gatsby's grave."

And lastly, when Nick runs into Tom Buchanan in Manhattan, it is late October. Just before he leaves West Egg to return to the Midwest, Nick observes that "the big shore places were closed now." With the autumn comes Nick's decision to close the door on his experiment with life in the East.

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How does weather (hot, cold, rain) foreshadow events that are going to happen in the future in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald?

The weather is often reflective of the emotional tone of the narrative in The Great Gatsby.

  • In Chapter One, Nick describes his..."familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer," and, in a sense it does as he is introduced to the wealthy Buchanans and Jay Gatsby. When Nick approaches the Buchanan mansion, "on a warm, windy evening," he meets Daisy and Tom Buchanan and Jordan Baker, people whose miens seem artificial. There is a breeze sweeping through the Buchanan mansion as Daisy and Jordan recline upon white couches, in poses that remind one of the Muses. As the evening progresses, Nick begins to be swept away by the breezes of wealth, and he is seduced by the life of the rich and the person of Jordan Baker. 
    After Nick returns home, he pulls into his garage and notices that "the wind had blown off," the illusion is gone. But, he notices Mr. Gatsby out on his lawn under the "silver pepper of the stars." He stares at the green light at the end of Daisy's pier.
  • In Chapter Four as Nick and Gatsby ride in his gorgeous car across the bridge to the city, "with the sunlight through the girders making a constant flicker upon the moving cars," Nick exults in "the mystery and the beauty of the world."
  • In Chapter Five, it rains on the day that Gatsby reunites with Daisy, and their reunion is rather strained and tinged with a certain melancholy. As Nick leaves, Gatsby's shows a "faint doubt ...as to the quality of his present happiness."
  • In Chapter Six, at Gatsby's party, Nick watches some of Gatsby's guests at the party and through "a pale thin ray of moonlight" between a director and his star, Nick notices the man stoop and kiss at the cheek of the actress, an act of little meaning, just as the beam of moonlight is temporal.
  • In Chapter Seven, when Gatsby confronts Tom with Daisy's love for him, it is the hottest day of the summer: the weather "was broiling" and the room "was large and stifling." And, as the tension rises, the descriptions of the heat reflect this tension:

From the ballroom beneath, muffled and suffocating chords were drifting up on hot waves of air.

  • Afterwards as they leave, Nick comments that "we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight."
  • Also in this chapter, Gatsby stands outside the Buchanan house, keeping vigil in the night to be sure that Tom does not hurt Daisy, but he is really "watching over nothing." The night signifies the end of Daisy's relationship with Gatsby.
  • In Chapter 8, there is an unreality to the dawn as the "grey turning, gold turning light" on a tree causes the shadow to make the "ghostly birds" sing among "blue leaves."
  • It is the beginning of autumn in this chapter and Gatsby decides to use the pool, perhaps the retain yet some of summer, stopping time and perhaps revitalizing his relationship with Daisy. But, Wilson "nod[s] into the twilight" and kills Gatsby.   

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