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Death Scene the Great Gatsby

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Death scene

The Great Gatsby

        In the novel, F.Scott Fitzgerald doesn’t describe in detail the scene in which Jay Gatsby dies. The author leaves out the scene where Wilson actually meets Gatsby and shoots him. He doesn’t actually tell us that Wilson has killed Gatsby, but he gives us enough clues to figure that out.

 After Myrtle’s accident, Gatsby decides to hide the truth about the driver’s identity and the “crime’s weapon”, his yellow car, hopping that Daisy will accept the truth about their relationship and run away with him. He spends almost the entire night watching Daisy’s window, to make sure her husband won’t hurt her. At 4 o’clock Daisy appears at her chamber window and turns off the light. Gatsby goes home and spends the first hours of the morning with Nick Carraway confessing him the truth about James “Jimmy” Gatz’s life. In those moments Nick truly understands the real Gatsby “(…) But it was all going by too fast now for his blurred eyes and he knew that he had lost that part of it, the freshest and the best, forever.(…) “They’re a rotten crowd,” I shouted across the lawn. ”You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.” At 2 o’clock in the afternoon, Gatsby goes in his bathing suit at the pool leaving word to the butler that if the phone will rang to be brought to him at the pool. Floating on the air mattress Gatsby looks at the sky, knowing deep down in his soul that Daisy will never call him, realizing that his dream will remain just that, a dream.”(…) If that was true he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream. He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass. A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about . . . like that ashen, fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous trees.” Even though the chauffeur heard the shot, Gatsby’s body was discovered only after Nick arrived anxious from the station. Nick strongly believed that the servants knew before his arrival what happened with Jay “(…) But they knew then, I firmly believe.” The motionless body resting on “the laden mattress”, pushed gently “by a small gust of wind” and “the thin red circle” of blood revealed them the tragic ending of the GREAT GATSBY.


In Jack Clayton’s adaptation from 1974 the scene looks to me very book alike, in the sense that if F. Scott Fitzgerald would have given more details, those would have been the ones.

The first thing that I noticed was the music Gatsby puts on the gramophone: Nick Lucas’ “When you and I were 17”. Nick Lucas (August 22, 1897 – July 28, 1982) was an American singer and pioneer jazz guitarist, remembered as "the grandfather of the jazz guitar", whose peak of popularity lasted from the mid-1920s to the early 1930s. His piece marks very well the period in which the action takes place, but also gives us a feeling of remembrance. We can see in Gatsby’s (Robert Redford) eyes the love that he still has for Daisy (Mia Farrow) and the hope that she will come to him to continue the story they left unwritten 5 years ago.  

The movement of the curtains from the pool that are blown away by the wind has a romantic touch emphasized even more by the whispers of Daisy’s voice imagined by Jay.

In the scene at the pool the director chose to make Gatsby a dreamer. He lies on the air mattress, on his belly, with the chin resting on his arm, thinking of Daisy.

Next, comes the climax of the scene, with a close-up on Wilson’s revolver followed by a zoom on it and by Gatsby’s shouting Daisy’s name. This makes us associate Daisy with the gun and with death.



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