Defined by a book of current literary terms, a climax is “the arrangement
of a series of ideas or expressions in ascending order of importance or
emphasis; the last term of the arrangement; a culmination.” Written by F.
Scott Fitzgerald during the roaring 20’s, The Great Gatsby provides a look into
the upper class circle of the East and West Villages of New York City. Known as
East and West Egg in the novel, Fitzgerald, through the eyes of bachelor,
portrays a cynical view of the high social society and the morality which it
lacks. This scarcity of ethics ultimately causes the downfall of their hollow
world in a clatter of broken hearts and mislead minds. The climax of The Great
Gatsby takes place in a New York Hotel suite when, after many hints toward the
reason for Gatsby’s company, the true nature of his presence is revealed to Tom
Buchanan. Ever since Jay Gatsby returned from World War I, which swept him away
from his boyhood love Daisy, he has made every indirect effort to make contact
and rekindle her love for him. Even with the knowledge that she is married and
leads a separate life from his, Gatsby, without regrets, lives his life for her.
When, at long last, he has the chance to interact with Daisy, he capitalizes on
it immediately. With the assistance of Jordan Baker and his neighbor Nick
Carraway (Daisy’s second cousin), Gatsby arranges a meeting with Daisy. At this
meeting the two hearts are reunited and again would be one, if not for the plate
glass barrier of Daisy’s marriage to Tom Buchanan which separates them.
Originally held apart by a young boys’ ineptitude to provide for a wealthy girl,
Daisy is now held back by a seemingly insincere knot of matrimony. This keeps
the all important bonds of love to be formed between the two former lovers. Tom,
a wealthy man with family history, is enlightened to the existence of this
perennial relationship in a slow weave of events which explode into the climax
of the novel in a New York Hotel Room during a visit by Jay Gatsby. The spark
that ignites the climax tinder box is a question posed by Tom to Gatsby.
“‘What kind of a row are you trying to cause in my house anyhow?’ They were
out in the open at last and Gatsby was content.” The openness further shows
itself as the scene quickly progresses into an blitzkrieg of words, the opposing
forces Tom and Gatsby. “I’ve got something to tell you, old sport,__”
began Gatsby. But Daisy guessed at his intention. “Please don’t!” she
interrupted helplessly. “Please let’s all go home Why don’t we all go
home.?”… “She never loved you, do you hear?” he cried. “
She only married you because I was poor and she was tired of waiting for me. It
was a terrible mistake, but in her heart she never loved anyone except me!”
At this point Jordan and I tried to go but Tom and Gatsby insisted with
competitive firmness that we remain__ as though neither of them had anything to
conceal and it would be a privilege to partake vicariously of their emotions.
(137-8) Insults and accusations are slung as the too assault each other in a
humanely cruel way until, when at the height of the climax, Daisy breaks apart.
The two suitors are torn from their opposing member and focus on the revealed
pain felt by the object of both their affections. “Please don’t.” Her
voice was cold but the rancor was gone from it. She looked at Gatsby.
“There, Jay,” she said__but her hand as she tried to light a cigarette
was trembling. Suddenly she threw the cigarette and the burning match on the
carpet. “Oh, you want too much!” she cried to Gatsby. “I love you
now__ isn’t that enough? I can’t help what’s past.” She began to sob
helplessly. ” I did love him once__but I loved you too Gatsby’s eyes opened
and closed. “You loved me too he repeated?”… “She’s not leaving
me!” Tom’s world suddenly leaned down over Gatsby. “Certainly not for
a common swindler who’d have to steal the ring he put on her
finger.”(139-40) A knock out punch, the argument soon sided itself and Tom
emerged the victor from a slowly dissipating cloud of dust, Daisy his spoils.
The argument drones on, a monotone buzz of accusations, but the outcome had
already been decided and the words from that point on would be swallowed by
Gatsby in a big gulp of false pride. This scene in which Gatsby and Tom face off
is the climax of the novel because all the events of the book lead up to that
one point with a constant drone of anticipation, and the events following it,
drift harmlessly towards the conclusion. From the beginning of the novel and
Gatsby’s wonderfully extravagant parties, to the initial meeting of Daisy and
Gatsby and the blossoming friendship between Jay and Nick, the book surmounts to
that single defining moment in the hotel room in which the main characters can
be seen in a shrewdly perforating light. The events which follow the fight in
the hotel are also interesting, but unimportant in the end. Gatsby never lost
hope that Daisy would come to him, but as soon as this hope and care arrived
back to his heart, unanswered, the events that followed were no longer of
importance. Once Daisy’s love and trust in Gatsby died, so did his soul, his
body was only an earthly reminder of his existence until Wilson took that also.
From the moment when Daisy admitted her love to Tom was true, and that Daisy’s
heart was merely a shared possession of his and Tom’s, Gatsby lost the true hope
and was left with the care of a desperate man which he so vividly personified.