THE GREAT GATSBY Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 CHAPTER 3 SUMMARY One of the reasons that Gatsby has become so famous around New York is that he throws elaborate parties every weekend at his mansion, lavish spectacles to which people long to be invited. One day, Gatsbys chauffeur brings Nick an invitation to one of these parties. At the appointed time, Nick makes the short walk to Gatsbys house and joins the festivities, feeling somewhat out of place amid the throng of jubilant strangers. Guests mill around exchanging rumors about their hostno one seems to know the truth about Gatsbys wealth or personal history. Nick runs into Jordan Baker, whose friend, Lucille, speculates that Gatsby was a German spy during the war. Nick also hears that Gatsby is a
graduate of Oxford and that he once killed a man in cold blood. CHAPTER 3 SUMMARY Gatsbys party is almost unbelievably luxurious: guests marvel over his Rolls-Royce, his swimming pool, his beach, crates of fresh oranges and lemons, buffet tents in the gardens overflowing with a feast, and a live orchestra playing under the stars. Liquor flows freely, and the crowd grows rowdier and louder as more and more guests get drunk. In this atmosphere of opulence and revelry, Nick and Jordan, curious about their host, set out to find Gatsby. Instead, they run into a middle-aged man with huge, owleyed spectacles (whom Nick dubs Owl Eyes) who sits poring over the unread books in Gatsbys library. CHAPTER 3 SUMMARY
At midnight, Nick and Jordan go outside to watch the entertainment. They sit at a table with a handsome young man who says that Nick looks familiar to him; they realize that they served in the same division during the war. The man introduces himself as none other than Jay Gatsby. Gatsbys speech is elaborate and formal, and he has a habit of calling everyone old sport. As the party progresses, Nick becomes increasingly fascinated with Gatsby. He notices that Gatsby does not drink and that he keeps himself separate from the party, standing alone on the marble steps, watching his guests in silence. At two oclock in the morning, as husbands and wives argue over whether to leave, a butler tells Jordan that Gatsby would like to see her. Jordan emerges from her meeting with Gatsby saying that she has just heard something extraordinary. Nick says goodbye to Gatsby, who goes inside to take a phone call from Philadelphia. Nick starts to walk home. On his way, he sees Owl Eyes struggling to get his car out of a ditch. Owl Eyes and another man climb out of the wrecked automobile, and Owl Eyes
drunkenly declares that he washes his hands of the whole business. CHAPTER 3 SUMMARY Nick then proceeds to describe his everyday life, to prove that he does more with his time than simply attend parties. He works in New York City, through which he also takes long walks, and he meets women. After a brief relationship with a girl from Jersey City, Nick follows the advice of Daisy and Tom and begins seeing Jordan Baker. Nick says that Jordan is fundamentally a dishonest person; he even knows that she cheated in her first golf tournament. Nick feels attracted to her despite her dishonesty, even though he himself claims to be one of the few honest people he has ever known. He had one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life.
CHAPTER 3 ANALYSIS At the beginning of this chapter, Gatsbys party brings 1920s wealth and glamour into full focus, showing the upper class at its most lavishly opulent. The rich, both socialites from East Egg and their coarser counterparts from West Egg, cavort without restraint. As his depiction of the differences between East Egg and West Egg evidences, Fitzgerald is fascinated with the social hierarchy and mood of America in the 1920s, when a large group of industrialists, speculators, and businessmen with brand-new fortunes joined the old, aristocratic families at the top of the economic ladder. The new rich lack the refinement, manners, and taste of the old rich but long to break into the polite society of the East Eggers. In this scenario, Gatsby is again an enigmathough he lives in a garishly ostentatious West Egg mansion, East Eggers freely attend his parties. Despite the tensions between the two groups, the blend of East and West Egg creates a distinctly American mood. While the Americans at the party possess a rough vitality, the Englishmen there are set off dramatically, seeming
desperate and predatory, hoping to make connections that will make them rich. CHAPTER 3 ANALYSIS Fitzgerald has delayed the introduction of the novels most important figure Gatsby himselfuntil the beginning of Chapter 3. The reader has seen Gatsby from a distance, heard other characters talk about him, and listened to Nicks thoughts about him, but has not actually met him (nor has Nick). Chapter 3 is devoted to the introduction of Gatsby and the lavish, showy world he inhabits. Fitzgerald gives Gatsby a suitably grand entrance as the aloof host of a spectacularly decadent party. Despite this introduction, this chapter continues to heighten the sense of mystery and enigma that surrounds Gatsby, as the low profile he maintains seems curiously out of place with his lavish expenditures. Just as he stood alone on his lawn in Chapter 1, he now stands outside the throng of pleasure-seekers. In his first direct contact with Gatsby, Nick notices his extraordinary smileone of
those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it. Nicks impression of Gatsby emphasizes his optimism and vitalitysomething about him seems remarkably hopeful, and this belief in the brilliance of the future impresses Nick, even before he knows what future Gatsby envisions. CHAPTER 3 ANALYSIS Many aspects of Gatsbys world are intriguing because they are slightly amissfor instance, he seems to throw parties at which he knows none of his guests. His accent seems affected, and his habit of calling people old sport is hard to place. One of his guests, Owl Eyes, is surprised to find that his books are real and not just empty covers designed to create the appearance of a great library. The tone of Nicks narration suggests that many of the inhabitants of East Egg and West Egg use an outward show of opulence to cover up their inner corruption and moral decay, but Gatsby seems to use his opulence to mask something entirely different and perhaps more profound. From this chapter forward, the mystery of Jay Gatsby becomes the
motivating question of the book, and the unraveling of Gatsbys character becomes one of its central mechanisms. One early clue to Gatsbys character in this chapter is his mysterious conversation with Jordan Baker. Though Nick does not know what Gatsby says to her, the fact that Jordan now knows something remarkable about Gatsby means that a part of the solution to the enigma of Gatsby is now loose among Nicks circle of acquaintances. CHAPTER 3 ANALYSIS Chapter 3 also focuses on the gap between perception and reality. At the party, as he looks through Gatsbys books, Owl Eyes states that Gatsby has captured the effect of theater, a kind of mingling of honesty and dishonesty that characterizes Gatsbys approach to this dimension of his life. The party itself is a kind of elaborate theatrical presentation, and Owl Eyes suggests that Gatsbys whole life is merely a show, believing that even his books might not be real. The novels title itselfThe Great Gatsbyis suggestive of the sort of vaudeville billing for a performer or magician like The Great Houdini, subtly
emphasizing the theatrical and perhaps illusory quality of Gatsbys life. Nicks description of his life in New York likewise calls attention to the difference between substance and appearance, as it emphasizes both the colorful allure of the city and its dangerous lack of balance: he says that the city has an adventurous feel, but he also calls it racy, a word with negative moral connotations. Nick feels similarly conflicted about Jordan. He realizes that she is dishonest, selfish, and cynical, but he is attracted to her vitality nevertheless. Their budding relationship emphasizes the extent to which Nick becomes acclimated to life in the East, abandoning his Midwestern values and concerns in order to take advantage of the excitement of his new surroundings. CHAPTER 4 Notes CHAPTER 4 Nick lists all of the people who attended Gatsbys parties
that summer, a roll call of the nations most wealthy and powerful people. He then describes a trip that he took to New York with Gatsby to eat lunch. As they drive to the city, Gatsby tells Nick about his past, but his story seems highly improbable. He claims, for instance, to be the son of wealthy, deceased parents from the Midwest. When Nick asks which Midwestern city he is from, Gatsby replies, San Francisco. Gatsby then lists a long and preposterously detailed set of accomplishments: he claims to have been educated at Oxford, to have collected jewels in the capitals of Europe, to have hunted big game, and to have been awarded medals in World War I by multiple European countries. Seeing Nicks skepticism, Gatsby produces a medal from Montenegro and a picture of himself playing CHAPTER 4
Gatsbys car speeds through the valley of ashes and enters the city. When a policeman pulls Gatsby over for speeding, Gatsby shows him a white card and the policeman apologizes for bothering him. In the city, Gatsby takes Nick to lunch and introduces him to Meyer Wolfshiem, who, he claims, was responsible for fixing the 1919 World Series. Wolfshiem is a shady character with underground business connections. He gives Nick the impression that the source of Gatsbys wealth might be unsavory, and that Gatsby may even have ties to the sort of organized crime with which Wolfshiem is associated. CHAPTER 4 After the lunch in New York, Nick sees Jordan Baker, who finally tells him the details of her mysterious conversation with Gatsby at the party. She relates that Gatsby told her that he is in love with Daisy Buchanan. According to Jordan, during the war, before Daisy married Tom, she was a beautiful young girl in
Louisville, Kentucky, and all the military officers in town were in love with her. Daisy fell in love with Lieutenant Jay Gatsby, HINT: ( He was never a major in the Army) who was stationed at the base near her home. Though she chose to marry Tom after Gatsby left for the war, Daisy drank herself into numbness the night before her wedding, after she received a letter from Gatsby. Daisy has apparently remained faithful to her husband throughout their marriage, but Tom has not. Jordan adds that Gatsby bought his mansion in West Egg solely to be near Daisy. Nick remembers the night he saw Gatsby stretching his arms out to the water and realizes that the green light he saw was the light at the end of Daisys dock. CHAPTER 4 ANALYSIS According to Jordan, Gatsby has asked her to convince Nick to arrange a reunion between Gatsby and Daisy. Because he is terrified that Daisy
will refuse to see him, Gatsby wants Nick to invite Daisy to tea. Without Daisys knowledge, Gatsby intends to come to the tea at Nicks house as well, surprising her and forcing her to see him. Though Nicks first impression of Gatsby is of his boundless hope for the future, Chapter 4 concerns itself largely with the mysterious question of Gatsbys past. Gatsbys description of his background to Nick is a daunting puzzlethough he rattles off a seemingly far-fetched account of his grand upbringing and heroic exploits, he produces what appears to be proof of his story. Nick finds Gatsbys story threadbare at first, but he eventually accepts at least part of it when he sees the photograph and the medal. He realizes Gatsbys peculiarity, however. In calling him a character, he highlights Gatsbys strange role as an actor. CHAPTER 4 ANALYSIS The luncheon with Wolfshiem gives Nick his first unpleasant impression
that Gatsbys fortune may not have been obtained honestly. Nick perceives that if Gatsby has connections with such shady characters as Wolfshiem, he might be involved in organized crime or bootlegging. It is important to remember the setting of The Great Gatsby, in terms of both the symbolic role of the novels physical locations and the books larger attempt to capture the essence of America in the mid-1920s. The pervasiveness of bootlegging and organized crime, combined with the burgeoning stock market and vast increase in the wealth of the general public during this era, contributed largely to the heedless, excessive pleasure-seeking and sense of abandon that permeate The Great Gatsby. For Gatsby, who throws the most sumptuous parties of all and who seems richer than anyone else, to have ties to the world of bootleg alcohol would only make him a more perfect symbol of the strange combination of moral decadence and vibrant optimism that Fitzgerald portrays as the spirit of 1920s America. CHAPTER 4
ANALYSIS On the other hand, Jordans story paints Gatsby as a lovesick, innocent young soldier, desperately trying to win the woman of his dreams. Now that Gatsby is a full-fledged character in the novel, the bizarre inner conflict that enables Nick to feel such contradictory admiration and repulsion for him becomes fully apparentwhereas Gatsby the lovesick soldier is an attractive figure, representative of hope and authenticity, Gatsby the crooked businessman, representative of greed and moral corruption, is not. As well as shedding light on Gatsbys past, Chapter 4 illuminates a matter of great personal meaning for Gatsby: the object of his hope, the green light toward which he reaches. Gatsbys love for Daisy is the source of his romantic hopefulness and the meaning of his yearning for the green light in Chapter 1. That light, so mysterious in the first chapter, becomes the symbol of Gatsbys dream, his love for Daisy, and his attempt to make that love real.
CHAPTER 4 ANALYSIS The green light is one of the most important symbols in The Great Gatsby. Like the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg, the green light can be interpreted in many ways, and Fitzgerald leaves the precise meaning of the symbol to the readers interpretation. Many critics have suggested that, in addition to representing Gatsbys love for Daisy, the green light represents the American dream itself. Gatsbys irresistible longing to achieve his dream, the connection of his dream to the pursuit of money and material success, the boundless optimism with which he goes about achieving his dream, and the sense of his having created a new identity in a new place all reflect the coarse combination of pioneer individualism and uninhibited materialism that Fitzgerald perceived as dominating 1920s American life.
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