Here is our final group from 2B's commentary on the nature and role of the setting in Chapter 1 of our new novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Read it and write a comment in which you respond to one of their observations, then compare/contrast it with some element of the new settings introduced in Chapter 2. You might find it interesting to check out these clips of Tom and Daisy's home and Myrtle's garage-home from the 2013 film version of the novel - they could provide some interesting fuel for different interpretations!
The Great Gatsby: Chapter 1 Setting Analysis
-Symbolic significance of color in the setting: interior of house starts off as a “bright rosy colored space,” creating a facade of joy and tranquility; however, as the chapter progresses, the set is describe a “crimson room.” This transition from light to dark parallels the exposure of Daisy and Tom’s situation as grim and desperate, contrasting the illusion of luxury and happiness that previously enshrouded the scene.
-Adjectives placed throughout the chapter describe the scene (and characters) as stagnant, unmoving, i.e. “stationary,” “anchored,” etc. (Fitzgerald 8) . These details contribute to the “frozen-in-time” ambiance of the house. Daisy and Tom reside in West Egg, home to the rich whose wealth is comprised of family money. They are affluent due to maintaining their historical status as a wealthy family, and just like the house, have “frozen” themselves in time.
-Tom and Daisy’s house was described as having a “sunken Italian garden, a half acre of deep, pungent roses, and a snub-nosed motor-boat that bumped the tide offshore” (7 Fitzgerald). The roses, in their pleasant but overpowering aroma, also show how Tom and Daisy mask the true stench of their putrid, rotting marriage with the illusion of health and beauty. The genuine, twisted nature of their situation is exposed to the reader by the presence of the “motor-boat” in the scene (7 Fitzgerald). If their lives are as perfect as they assert, why would they need to escape from their allegedly fortunate circumstances? It is clear Tom and Daisy are aware (whether consciously or subconsciously) of the ugly reality of their lives that festers beneath the pretty veil of wealth and grandiose living, and have a suppressed desire to flee from their troubles.
-Outside of the mansion, there was “fresh grass… that seemed to grow a little way into the house.” Perhaps this detail foreshadows change soon to come to the Buchanan household. Like previously stated, there are many adjectives and descriptions that indicate stagnancy in Tom and Daisy’s home. But just as plants, constantly growing and changing, are finding a way to pry their way into the home, maybe another force (Gatsby?) will also come to break into the home and disrupt the stagnancy.
-The comparison of the “curtains” to “pale flags” alludes to Tom’s territorial nature (8 Fitzgerald). Like a warring nation, he marks his territory with a flag, proclaiming to all that he will fiercely protect his claims. Therefore, this detail may also foreshadow Tom later in the story protecting what is “his” (his home, his money, his reputation, his wife?). The ambience of the room Daisy and Jordan lounge in is quickly changed from a free flowing space to sudden confinement when Tom enters the room where he “shut the rear windows and the caught wind died out about the room” (8 Fitzgerald). The action shows Tom attempting to bring everything back to a stagnant nature. He refuses to accept change, and in doing so, shuts out the world. He wants everything to remain exactly the way it is, and will go to any length necessary to do this. Also, in shutting the window, Tom is cutting off his wife, Daisy, from the world, and the desire for liberation that may come to her if she were to taste even the smallest bit of freedom. Tom keeps her shut up, caged.
-Tom guides Nick into a room with a ceiling like a “frosted wedding-cake,” and a “wine-colored rug” (8), both symbolic of the honeymoon-stage, in which the couple was at one point happy together, and now, as their marriage deteriorates, they are attempting to pretend they are still. The “wedding-cake” ceiling represents the couple’s refusal to acknowledge the issues of their relationship, the mental aspect. To parallel, the rug and floor represent the foundation, the physical aspect, of their relationship. The “wine-color” of the rug shows that Tom and Daisy, both incapable of dealing with the hard reality of their dying marriage (like a hard, stone floor), soften the blow of it (like how a rug makes a floor seem soft) by drowning their pain in the intoxicating extravagance of wealth, whether it be through literal alcohol consumption (“wine”) or any other luxury paid for by the couple’s abundant supply of money.
-Symbolism of Light as Hope: While Daisy, Tom, Nick, and Jordan are dining outside during this chapter, “four candles flickered on the table in the diminished wind” (11 Fitzgerald). These candles symbolize the little bit of hope left for Tom and Daisy’s marriage, as it is evidently falling apart at the seams. However, Daisy, claiming there is still plenty of light left in the day, plenty of hope left for their relationship, extinguishes the candles. Daisy refuses to accept defeat, that there is so little joy left in their horribly corrupted marriage. As the scene progresses, Tom’s mistress calls the house, shattering the pleasant but false fantasy Daisy had attempted to maintain. Night falls as hope fades, and “the candles [were] lit again,” as the couple at last can no longer pretend there is more than but a morsel of promise left in their relationship, a trembling candle light. Finally, Nick leaves the house, and Tom and Daisy wish him goodbye while “[standing] side by side in a cheerful square of light” (19 Fitzgerald). This displays the restoration of the facade of happiness in the Buchanan home. Nick caught a flash of the truth during his visit, but still the illusion the couple asserts still stands, at least for now.
Mr. Justin Biggs