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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

HOT HOT HOT! Chapter 7 in Gatsby

Please respond to at least one of the questions below:

(1)In our discussion today Nathan connected the motif of heat in chapter 7 to the Valley of Ashes. What do you see as the symbolic significance of heat and/or ashes in this novel?

(2) I posed this question in class, but we got on a good tangent and didn't come back to it: Why do you think Fitzgerald chooses to place a looming set of faceless eyes over the Valley of Ashes (see beginning of chapter 2 and middle of chapter 7)?

(3) Does chapter 7 change your opinion of any of the characters? How so?

26 Comments:

Blogger Kaitlin said...

2) I think the eyes that Fitzgerald puts over the Valley of Ashes means two things to the reader and the story.

It is a foreshawdow for a part of the book in the future that will have something to do with the characters in East and West Egg. It will be a changing part of the story that will define the characters.

I also think that the eyes are the window to the soul as mentioned in class. The "glooming" eyes are over the Valley watching and protecting it as it is the happiness of the book. For a stretch of the novel we only see the fake happiness of the "Eggs" and let ourselves believe that in some way it is genuine. When Fitzgerald mentions the Valley we are brought back to reality where we know happiness can be real and not bought. The happiness of the "Eggs" is artificial and phony. But the true soul of the book is in the Valley seen through the eyes.

5:27 PM  
Blogger sunshine_21 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:43 PM  
Blogger ryan f said...

I haven't blogged for a while so here is my attempt to answer #1:

I think that the valley of ashes is s symbol for a physical hell on earth. Because of it's location between New York City and West Egg, it seems like it is the wasteland for those trying to succeed. Its location and desolate landscape make for a dramatic setting to place all of those who cannot survive in either the city or West Egg. To be completely honest, I am not sure exactly how Nathan's comment about heat and the valley of ashes connect; it just seems as though Fitzgerald need a location for all those who don't succeed, because obviously not everyone is going to be able to hit it big and thrive in the rich communities. The specific characteristics of hell are very similar to that of the Valley of Ashes; the desolation, isolations, and sheer dramatic qualities of Valley of Ashes are all qualities that could be assumed for hell as well. Hell obviously is assumed to be very hot, and I think Fitzgerald wanted to further dramatize the Valley of Ashes

5:56 PM  
Blogger Anoel said...

Chapter seven changes my opinion of many charactors, but primarilly Wilson. Before the death of his wife, I saw him as an invaluble charactor who had little importance in the novel, but after seeing his agony at the death of his wife, I have found that he has a definate purpose. He is the true love in the story. Old, poor, and beaten, he still works incessantly to support and help his wife. For her sake, he wants to leave the garage. Another thing about Wilson's love for Myrtle is that it has no possible motives. Myrtle has not been depicted as overly beautiful, she isn't rich, and she doesn't have connections. Yet Wilson loves her through it all. Though the only true love in the book is one-way, it is still love as it should be.

6:41 PM  
Blogger nathana said...

I think that both heat and ashes represent the pain of transition. The eyes represent the society watching with curiosity as the characters break away. The characters are in a battle, and the battle occurs on the edge of the blade between the two worlds. It is hot and intense, full of destruction and ashes. People lose everything to try their luck in dreams of another world. I feel strongly that there is a connection between heat and ashes. The pivot point of the story in my opinion is during the heat, as this is where Gatsby realizes that the dream is dead. I believe Tom when he tells Daisy that Gatsby knows it is over. The valley of the ashes seems to be the pivot point of the setting. The reader can easily make the leap from fire to heat. I feel that they are interchangeable. The valley is where Gatsby was burned and destroyed along with his dreams. I feel that the book could have ended in this chapter and still been complete. The description of the sorrowful car journey towards death would have made valid last lines. The characters have long been shown for who they are. We know through foreshadowing that Daisy as an idea or as a person is unreasonable and temporary. I get the sense that we are in the midst of declining action even as the tempo picks up. The climax was when Gatsby and Daisy shared a few happy moments together just after Nick’s invitation.

6:45 PM  
Blogger BessieS said...

Question 2:

I agree with Kaitlin that the eyes are the windows to the soul but I also think that they give people a sense of uneasiness when they see the eyes. The eyes are judging everyone and it changes how people feel and act because there is no face to go along with the eyes and the eyes cannot be confronted like a person can. But the eyes can have many personalities because people imagine what the eyes would be thinking of them and each person gives the eyes a personality based on what point of view they see them from, it’s creepy. I think Fitzgerald chooses to put the eyes over the Valley of Ashes because it is a place where people don’t judge others as much as they do where Gatsby and Nick live. The people passing through on the way to the city feel uneasy and out of place because of the judgments that they eyes make of them. If the eyes were in the city or in West Egg I am not sure that they would be as noticeable or important.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Christine b. said...

I believe, like I said in class and like Kaitlin, that the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg see into the souls of the citizens who live in the Valley of Ashes. Because of this, the citizens are able to show their true personality. This is also why the area is so desolate and hot. Only the few honest people in society are able to live here due to the lack of money and parties that most hide their true identity behind. This is shown through Wilson's character. He is not successful in the society due to his honest nature, however he also genuinely loves his wife, as said by Amanda. This is a rare and precious thing, considering love rarely exists in such a deceitful society. This brings up a question in my mind:

Is it better to have true love or to be successful in society? These seem to be two extremes of the society in the book.

Going back to the second question, when the eyes are mentioned for the first time in the book, they are described like so:
"But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless day under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground" (Fitzgerald 24).

Brood:
To focus attention on a subject persistently

(Just a word i did not know)

7:36 PM  
Blogger Monique R said...

(3) Chapter 7 definately changes my opinion of multiple characters.

First, through the whole story I have thought of Daisy as the one who was mistreated by her husband, so I accepted her affair with Gatsby as a legitimate one that I didn't find as much fault in as I did Tom and Myrtle's. Once the whole deal came out into the open, especially when she kisses Gatsby and tells him she loves him in her and Tom's own house (page 116 in my book), my opinion of her began to change. By the end of the chapter I began to see her as a pushover who was always trying to make everyone happy, and lost her sense of morality in the process, so I lost respect for her.

Also, my opinion of Tom changed, for the better. In the beginning I thought he was pretty much scum for cheating on Daisy, and though I still do think it was never right for him to, I think he has come around a little bit. Now that he is starting to apprectiate what he could stand to lose, his emotions for her are starting to come out and he attracts pity from the reader. At this point I'm not sure if their marriage can really be saved, but honestly I don't think it should be.

8:41 PM  
Blogger mackenzie said...

When the characters pass through the valley of ashes new things are discovered about them. When the characters are in their houses outside of the city, they can hide conflicts or feelings in their material possessions. Gatsby hides behind his love for Daisy (or his love for the IDEA of Daisy), his money and the possessions he buys with it. (One of which could even be Daisy; once she saw all his stuff she gave him what he wanted: her love, so essentially he bought her love for him), and his parties at which he paraded such possessions. Tom and Daisy both hide what ever amount of love they had/have for each other in their house and their dinner parties. However, when these characters pass through the Valley of Ashes and under the faceless eyes, it is as if they can no longer hide anymore, their unappealing secrets are becoming uncovered and they lose control over them. When the characters pass under the uncanny eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg, it is discovered that Tom has a mistress, pieces of Gatsby’s life are found to be corrupt, both Tom and Gatsby love Daisy who caused the whole thing but cannot make a decision, and Daisy kills Myrtle. These eyes are in the Valley of Ashes because sometime the characters’ masks have to “burn up” revealing (in the ashes) who they really are and what they have done.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Jordan L said...

Question 3:

Chapter seven changed my mind of Tom. I always perceived Tom to think of Daisy as just another girl but when he sees his relationship with her being threatened it scared him. It made me think that there was more to that than just lust, since he is dating Myrtle, but he really didn’t want to lose Daisy to Gatsby.

On other hand I can't be sure what to think because, like Spencer has said many times, to be ion true love you have to have parallel souls and be selfless. Tom isn’t like that at all and has been taking Daisy for granted for a long time and has been having an affair.

This chapter made me question Tom and Daisy's relationship and second guess their "love".

8:55 PM  
Blogger J Hunt said...

Chapter seven changed my opinion of Tom. Throughout the previous chapters he has suspected that gatsby has commited crimes and has been living that life. But now he sees that it is true and he brings them up to embarrass him. But what changes my opinion more than Tom's change of attitude toward Gatsby is his sexist attitude. Although he has been a bit sexist before, he really shows his feelings about sexes and it shows him as very hypocritical.

9:04 PM  
Blogger Erin G said...

Sorry I'm so late! I just got home and then had to create an account with google so I could blog.
Chapter seven definitely changed my opinion of Gatsby a great extent. Before, I felt that he was trustworthy and I suppose that almost felt sorry for him. He seemed charming and almost vulnerable; like he had given everything he had so that he could be with Daisy. Now Gatsby seems completely untrustworthy. It seems as though he is aggressively trying to win over Daisy's heart and is so insecure that he must act too proud. Pride is sometimes viewed as a negative trait if it drives you beyond "steady thinking," I suppose.

Also, I am intrigued by the valley of ashes and the heat. I feel like the ashes and heat somehow represents how society displays itself. After reading chapter eight, it seems that Eckleburg (God) can see everything within you, even if you try to mask yourself with the ashes of society's expectations.

9:07 PM  
Blogger Jordyn S said...

ANGRY!!!!!!!
Kakos- I wrote a whole long blog comment like usual, and New Blogger wont take my Old Blogger account, so I click go to create one and it navigated away from the page without warning me first, which I guess was my own fault. But now I have to retype everything.

Well I was answering Question 1

I feel that ashes represent a lot of stereotypes about poor people in society. This is because as a resident in Littleton, when you think of poor people or homeless people, its a good bet that dirty comes to mind somewhere in there. I think the ash represents that the upper class of the Eggs views the less wealthy people as insignificant. The ash is a blanket, because if someone is covered in ash, you can only see the true person by wiping away the ash, and for the upper class, they will only recognize the poor people if they are able to overcome their preconcieved notions about them. This is also why I think in chapter 7, they went into town to argue, because they think that sort of behavior is normal for residents in the Valley of the Ashes. I think heat represents the burning desire to be even more wealthy, and in their minds more superior to everyone else. They focus soley on the negative aspects of life that occur in the Valley of the Ashes and completely disregard the thought that anyone from this part of town could produce anything positive. Jordan mentions "we are all white" in Chapter 7, as though they all believe that they have a clean sheet, that they are 100% pure. Their greedy self-absorbtion and belief that they are superior is what draws the East and West Eggers away from their purity, cleanliness and instead covers them in more darkness, like ash.

9:18 PM  
Blogger Clay said...

2. The eyes are definitely there to represent a sense of guilt. In chapter eight especially, we learn how guilty a few of the characters are for their actions in the past. There is a lot of cheating going on in the novel and those eyes are like the eyes of God- they see everything. If someone is watching, most people will not do something that they know is bad. But in this case, the characters are doing bad things anyway.

9:32 PM  
Blogger MRG said...

3) My view of Gatsby was changed quite a bit after reading chapter 7. Before i thought that Gatsby's love for Daisy was true and pure and that he actually loved her, but after he calls her "golden girl" and says that her voice "sounds like money," it is hard for me to believe that he is not only getting with Daisy in order to elevate his social status even more than it already is.

My view of Tom was also changed a lot. I previously viewed him as a passive person who would not seek a fight and would not care that much about Daisy and Gatsby being together because he is already cheating on Daisy with Myrtle. So when he suggests that they go to lunch in the city and then straight up confronts Gatsby and is pretty much trying to start a fight i was very surprised because i never thought that he would do something like that.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Spencer said...

Ahhhhhh! I'm Late! Sorry, I was at the musical.

Now that that's off of my chest, I'd like to respond to the second question. I considered this a little more after I got home today. I feel that the eyes represent how everyone in the story feels as though they are constantly being watched and judged by others. Everyone is so concerned with others' perceptions of them that they forget about their own perceptions of themselves. In that regard, the eyes serve two functions: both as a reminder to the characters of their own insecurities and a reminder to the reader to focus on the importance of self-perception.

In response to the third question, my opinion of Gatsby continues to go back and forth. On the one hand, he seems like a greedy man who is only attracted to Daisy because of his desire to be "Jay Gatsby". But on the other hand, at times he seems extremely genuine, as when he tells the truth about attending Oxford. I think this ambiguity is part of what makes Gatsby's character attractive.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Spencer said...

Speaking of eyes, I quite liked Erin G's pencil sketch in the art attack. It has tons of emotion.

9:53 PM  
Blogger e prado said...

Question 2

Hmm… I actually don’t really know what I think about this one, but I’ll take a shot.
The eyes on the billboard show that someone is always watching or judging the characters, perhaps they are in a way a sort of protector or God watching over the people. maybe looking in with disgust) However, in a way it also gives the character a sort of audience; the people seem to like it better when they can perform their lives in front of someone. The blue eyes seem to hide their true feelings, much like many of the characters in the book. Some may think that they are filled with guilt and sadness, yet they could also contain an element of pride or lust. Because their feelings are unreadable, the eyes change, very similar to the way the characters have changed over the last chapter.

10:08 PM  
Blogger chris b said...

1) I think that Fitzgerald might have been trying to put a refernece to God into his novel. The Valley of Ashes isn't exactly a good place and God is said to watch the bad things that we do. Fitzgerald doesnt seem like he would have been a very religious person, but he could have been elaborating on the idea of God in this novel.

6:09 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Chapter 7's eyes represent the critiscm of society by a looming, godlike figure. Chapter 7 doesnt really change my opinion of the characters, it just showed that Daisy is weak and impressionable.

9:44 AM  
Blogger lauren f. said...

I agree with what Ryan said about the Valley of Ashes symbolizing the physical aspect of hell on earth. It is the dividing line between the people in New York City and the people of West Egg. The people that live in the city fight everyday to stay alive and most of the poor and homeless people live there wanting to be like the people of West Egg. The wealthy people cross this dividing line to escape from their ellegant life style and escape from their fake world. The poor people never think to go and cross the line because they know that they will not be accepted. They cross the line from their bright life to the dead and ashey place.

The faceless eyes looking out over the valley represents the way in which the people in West Egg view the city. They have blank minds and the city is their escape from their wealthy ways. The people don't think about what goes on with the lives of the people in the city.

My opinion changed regarding Tom. I thought he was a jerk for the ways in which he treated Daisy, but he proved himself to be a better man and showed some emotion involving Daisy and Gatsby.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Sarah D said...

3.
I agree with many people with the fact the Daisy changed in chapter 7. I thought that Daisy truly loved Gatsby until she confessed her love for Tom. I think that Daisy is making excuses for her actions and that she isn't being true to herself. Although Daisy confesses her love for Tom, her love for Gatsby are two completely different kinds of love. As Spencer and others (sorry for not remembering specifics other people :)) that love cannot be measured. There are only different kinds of love, and Daisy revealed that she loved and loves each man differently. Also, Daisy's voice is full of money, which makes her take on a completely different role. She, like the entire society, is so concerned with money. She has no true compassion for anything or anyone but MONEY. My dislike for Daisy dramatically increased during chapter 7.

10:00 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

1) Like Ryan said, I think the valley of ashes is a wasteland between East and West Egg and the city. The people who live there are ones who can't make it in either of those societies. They don't fit into the rich societies of the Eggs or the city. The people who live there are part of the ashes themselves. It is as though they may have tried to be rich and successful, but they did not succeed; they were "burned' and now they are ashes themselves.

As to Nathan's comment about the motif of heat, I think the heat is used to illustrate that all of the major important events are about to happen. It represents the fights and conflicts developing between the characters. In Chapter 7, all of the big events take place on "almost the last, certainly the warmest" day of the summer.(Fitz 114) For most of the summer, Gatsby has been drawing ever closer to achieving his dream of winning Daisy. Now, on the last and hottest day of summer, everything is coming together and all the fights and arguments will be fought. It is almost as if the heat of the summer represents the time when Daisy and Gatsby could be together unofficially, and it makes sense that on the hottest day, Daisy would have to choose who she loves: Tom of Gatsby(if she loves either of them). All of those big events had to happen on the last day of summer because according to Jordan in the book, "Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall" Daisy has to choose whether to start a life with Gatsby or keep living with Tom because fall is coming.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Jessica K said...

I think those eyes over the valley of Ashes are there to show how people are always watching and judging each other. There are always people prying into others lives making judgments and observations. These eyes are observing the ongoings of these people’s lives. The eyes seem to judge as well. I think that since they are watching over everyone people can realize that what they are doing is stupid and silly. Nick realizes this and he is also the only one that mentions the eyes. He knows they are watching everyone kind of keeping them in line. I also think the fact that they are over the Valley of Ashes between the East/West Egg and the city serves a purpose. The eyes observe the transformation people go through when coming and going from the city. This ties into what the fishbowl was talking about today how the city is a place to escape from their own lives and hide.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Megan D said...

3.
I agree with Monique. My opinion completely changed of Daisy. She always struck me as more of an innocent character who is getting hurt by other people. Gatsby and Daisy's affair didn't seem so bad to me, since it seemed that Tom was the one who was really at fault for the whole thing. Now I think that all of them who are involved in all this, are just as self centered and greedy as Tom.
Also, my opinion of Gatsby changed dramatically. Like what we talked about in class, when Gatsby says that Daisy's voice is full of money, it gave me the impression that all he is looking for is how he can make more money. It seems to me that Gatsby is only looking for money, and the only reason he was drawn to Daisy in the first place was because of her money. He didn't fall in love with her, he fell in love with her money.

10:25 PM  
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6:37 AM  

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