Chapter 7-8: The Dead Dream
Aim: In this 30-minute lesson, you will go over the part 7-8 of the book. Go over comprehension questions after each paragraph, and practice using new expressions.
After saying hello, read the following part of the book out loud with the tutor.
I glanced at Daisy who was staring terrified between Gatsby and her husband and at Jordan who had begun to balance an invisible but absorbing object on the tip of her chin. Then I turned back to Gatsby–and was startled at his expression. He looked–and this is said in all contempt for the babbled slander of his garden–as if he had “killed a man.” For a moment the set of his face could be described in just that fantastic way.
It passed, and he began to talk excitedly to Daisy, denying everything, defending his name against accusations that had not been made. 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. The voice begged again to go.
“PLEASE, Tom! I can’t stand this any more.”
What does Gatsby do after Tom’s accusation? How does Daisy react to his efforts?
Her frightened eyes told that whatever intentions, whatever courage she had had, were definitely gone. “You two start on home, Daisy,” said Tom. “In Mr. Gatsby’s car.”
She looked at Tom, alarmed now, but he insisted with magnanimous scorn.
“Go on. He won’t annoy you. I think he realizes that his presumptuous little flirtation is over.”
Why does Tom insist that Daisy go home with Gatsby?
They were gone, without a word, snapped out, made accidental, isolated, like ghosts even from our pity. After a moment Tom got up and began wrapping the unopened bottle of whiskey in the towel.
“Want any of this stuff? Jordan? . . . Nick?”
I didn’t answer.
“Nick?” He asked again.
“No . . . I just remembered that today’s my birthday.”
I was thirty. Before me stretched the portentous menacing road of a new decade.
It was seven o’clock when we got into the coupe with him and started for Long Island. Tom talked incessantly, exulting and laughing, but his voice was as remote from Jordan and me as the foreign clamor on the sidewalk or the tumult of the elevated overhead. Human sympathy has its limits and we were content to let all their tragic arguments fade with the city lights behind. Thirty–the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning brief-case of enthusiasm, thinning hair. But there was Jordan beside me who, unlike Daisy, was too wise ever to carry well-forgotten dreams from age to age. As we passed over the dark bridge her wan face fell lazily against my coat’s shoulder and the formidable stroke of thirty died away with the reassuring pressure of her hand.
Describe how Nick feels about turning thirty. (How does this relate to Fitzgerald’s reference to the American society?)
So we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight. The young Greek, Michaelis, who ran the coffee joint beside the ash heaps was the principal witness at the inquest. He had slept through the heat until after five, when he strolled over to the garage and found George Wilson sick in his office–really sick, pale as his own pale hair and shaking all over. Michaelis advised him to go to bed but Wilson refused, saying that he’d miss a lot of business if he did. While his neighbor was trying to persuade him a violent racket broke out overhead.
“I’ve got my wife locked in up there,” explained Wilson calmly. “She’s going to stay there till the day after tomorrow and then we’re going to move away.”
Michaelis was astonished; they had been neighbors for four years and Wilson had never seemed faintly capable of such a statement. Generally he was one of these worn-out men: when he wasn’t working he sat on a chair in the doorway and stared at the people and the cars that passed along the road. When any one spoke to him he invariably laughed in an agreeable, colorless way. He was his wife’s man and not his own.
Who is Michaelis, the young Greek? What is the story he tells at the “inquest”?
So naturally Michaelis tried to find out what had happened, but Wilson wouldn’t say a word–instead he began to throw curious, suspicious glances at his visitor and ask him what he’d been doing at certain times on certain days. Just as the latter was getting uneasy some workmen came past the door bound for his restaurant and Michaelis took the opportunity to get away, intending to come back later. But he didn’t. He supposed he forgot to, that’s all. When he came outside again a little after seven he was reminded of the conversation because he heard Mrs. Wilson’s voice, loud and scolding, downstairs in the garage.
“Beat me!” he heard her cry. “Throw me down and beat me, you dirty little coward!”
What is Wilson trying to do? Why is Myrtle upset?
- In what way is each of the major characters involved in the tragedy that occurs at the end of the afternoon? How does this relate to the American society in the 20s and the American Dream at that time?
- At the end of the horrible scene, what does Nick suddenly realize? How does he feel about the new decade?
- Describe how you felt when you turned thirty (or someone you know turned thirty). Were you scared? Excited? Feeling more responsible? Share your thoughts with your Cambly tutor!
Do you understand the following words and expressions? Practice using the new words or expressions with the Cambly tutor.