Gatsby's house becomes much quieter, and his party's come to an end. Nick visits, and learns that Gatsby ended the parties because he no longer needed them to attract Daisy. He also learns that Gatsby also fired all of his servants because Daisy thought they might gossip about their relationship (she now visits often during the afternoon). He replaced the servants with some of Wolfsheim's men.
As soon as he gets Daisy, Gatsby no longer needs "new money" parties. But Gatsby can't escape the way he corrupted himself in his quest to become rich enough to win Daisy, as the presence of Wolfsheim's men shows.
On the hottest day of the summer, Daisy invites Nick and Gatsby to lunch with her, Tom, and Jordan. At one point, while Tom is out of the room, Daisy kisses Gatsby on the lips and says she loves him. But the next instant the nurse leads in her young daughter, Pammy. Daisy basically ignores the child, but Gatsby keeps glancing at the little girl in surprise.
When Daisy kisses Gatsby it seems that he's won. But even Gatsby senses that Daisy's daughter symbolizes a shared past between Daisy and Tom that Gatsby can't touch.
When Tom and Gatsby take a tour around the house, Gatsby points out that his house is directly across the sound from Tom's house.
The opposition of the houses shows the rivalry between Gatsby and Tom.
The lunch is awkward, at least in part because of the intense heat. At one point Daisy asks what they should do with the rest of the day and the next thirty years of their lives. She cries out that she wants them all to go to the city. Daisy and Gatsby lock eyes, and Daisy comments that Gatsby always looks like an advertisement. Tom can see in Daisy's eyes that Daisy and Gatsby are in love. He suddenly agrees that they should all go to the city.
Tom discovers Daisy and Gatsby's affair. Daisy's comparing Gatsby to a man in an advertisement is her way of saying she loves him. For Daisy, corrupted by the consumer culture of the Roaring Twenties, love is just another material thing that can be advertised.
Before they leave for the city, Nick and Gatsby have a moment alone, in which they agree that Daisy is indiscreet. Gatsby comments that Daisy's voice is "full of money."
Gatsby comment seems to indicate that he half-senses that Daisy's love of material things has corrupted her, that she herself has become a kind of commodity.
Tom insists on driving Gatsby's big yellow car. Gatsby and Daisy travel alone in Tom's coupe, while Tom drives Nick and Jordan. It's clear Tom now knows about the affair between Gatsby and Daisy. Gatsby's car is low on gas, though, and Tom pulls in to Wilson's Garage in the Valley of Ashes.
The car swap is a crucial plot point, and comes about through Tom and Gatsby's conflict, old money versus new.
While selling him the gas, Wilson inquires about buying Tom's other car to resell it. He says he's trying to raise money to finance the move west that he has planned for him and his wife Myrtle. Tom is startled at the imminent loss of his mistress.
Wilson has his own dream of moving west. With Daisy's affair and Myrtle about to go west with Wilson, Tom's world now really is falling apart.
Wilson adds that he has "wised up" recently and became physically ill upon discovering that his wife has been living a double life. Nick realizes that Wilson has figured out his wife is having an affair but doesn't know that Tom is the other man. He also thinks that Wilson and Tom are identical, except that Tom is healthy and Wilson sick.
Nick sees across class lines to the fundamental similarity between Tom and Wilson. Wealth does not make Tom any better than Wilson, it just keeps him healthier and stronger.
Nick notices the haunting eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg looming in the distance, then spots Myrtle Wilson staring down from the windows above the garage at Jordan Baker, whom she seems to have mistaken for Daisy, her rival in love.
Myrtle seeing Tom with Gatsby's car is another crucial plot point. Myrtle's despair at seeing Tom with his "wife" is linked to T. J. Eckleburg's dead eyes.
In the city, the group takes a suite at the Plaza Hotel near Central Park. Soon after arriving, Tom challenges Gatsby's history as an "Oxford man." When Gatsby successfully answers the question, Tom then asks what kind of a split Gatsby's trying to cause between Tom and his wife. Daisy tries and fails to quiet Tom.
The confrontation between Tom and Gatsby, old money and new money, comes out into the open. Daisy does not want the confrontation to happen. She likes things the way they are.
Gatsby says Daisy never loved Tom and has only ever loved him. Tom protests, but Daisy says it's true.
Gatsby's sacrifice appears to have been worth it.
Yet when Tom asks her to think about their history together, Daisy admits that she did love Tom in the past, she just loved Gatsby too. Gatsby is stunned.
Gatsby considers Daisy's only past to be the single month she shared with him.
Tom pushes his advantage: he reveals that Gatsby really is involved with organized crime, such as bootlegging. All this terrifies Daisy, who begs that they leave and go home. Tom, realizing he's won, tells her to go back with Gatsby, who won't "annoy" her anymore.
Gatsby corrupted himself and his dream to win Daisy's heart. Now that corruption scares her away. Tom sends Daisy off with Gatsby as a final insult.
Nick remembers at that moment that the day is his thirtieth birthday. He says that a "menacing" new decade stretched before him. In Tom's car heading back toward Long Island (Gatsby and Daisy took Gatsby's car), Nick observes that unlike Daisy, people like Jordan Baker know better than to hold onto irretrievable dreams. Nick describes the car he rides in as driving toward death.
Nick envies those not haunted by the past (though he's wrong about Jordan). Nick's wariness about the future and his comment about the car headed toward death foreshadow a death in the novel and the end of the Roaring Twenties.
The point of view shifts to that of Michaelis, a Greek man who runs the coffee shop next to George Wilson's garage, and who, Nick, says, was the chief witness in the police investigation: that afternoon, Michaelis saw Wilson sick in his office and heard Myrtle struggling upstairs. Wilson told him he had locked her up until they moved west the following day.
Wilson tries to make his dream of a new life with Myrtle a reality. (The shift in point of view makes sense in the novel because Nick can recreate Michaelis's experience by reading or viewing Michaelis's testimony.)
That evening, though, Michaelis saw Myrtle shout at Wilson downstairs and then run into the street where she was struck and killed by a passing car that may have been light green (and which later will be revealed to have actually been Gatsby's yellow car).
That the witnesses see the car as light green connects Myrtle's death to the dream embodied by the green light. Nearly every character's "dream" dies from the consequences that arise from Myrtle's death.
The point of view shifts back to Nick: Tom, Nick, and Jordan arrive at the scene in their car. Both Tom and Wilson are overwhelmed by grief at Myrtle's death. Tom suspects that it was Gatsby who hit Myrtle.
Tom realizes that Myrtle saw Gatsby's car and thought it was Tom's car because he had been driving it earlier.
Tom, Jordan, and Nick drive to the Buchanan's house. Tom calls a taxi for Nick. As Nick waits for it outside, he sees Gatsby hiding in the bushes. Gatsby tells him that Daisy was driving the car and that he tried to stop the accident, but was too late. He says he'll take responsibility for it. He's less interested in what happened to Myrtle though, than in his fear that Tom will harm Daisy.
Daisy caused the crash, but just as old money hides its corruption behind a veneer of good manners, Daisy hides behind Gatsby. Gatsby dedicated his life to winning Daisy's heart. Now he only cares about her and ignores Myrtle's death.
Nick goes and checks on Daisy through the window, and sees Tom and Daisy sitting on either side of some fried chicken, reconciled. They are not exactly happy, Nick thinks, but not exactly unhappy either.
Daisy chooses the security of Tom over Gatsby's love, just as she did while Gatsby was away at the war.
Nick tells Gatsby everything is quiet, but Gatsby still refuses to leave. Nick leaves him "watching over nothing."
Gatsby can't give up his dream, even though it's dead.