«Chapter I – As Nick Carraway tells it, “the history of the summer really begins” on the evening that he dined with his distant cousin Daisy and ...»
He also thinks Gatsby has an “elaborate formality of speech that just missed being absurd” (53). Nick thinks Gatsby is a bit artificial, as if he were carefully choosing his words.) Nick is immediately caught up in the mystery that surrounds Gatsby. He asks Jordan what she knows about the man, and she laughs saying “Now you‟re started on the subject” (53). Why does Gatsby invoke such mystery and suspicion? (No one knows much about Gatsby, where he came from, or how he makes his money. He is not from E.S. Bakalian; firstname.lastname@example.org 9 the landed rich, across the Sound in East Egg. He is an upstart, and the gentry want to know more about him before they let him in their society. Gatsby, like Daisy, has the ability to dazzle people, to captivate their listeners, to draw people into their worlds. This sparks interest.) The next time Nick sees Gatsby he is standing alone, overlooking the crowd of revelers from the steps. While the dancers hold their partners close, it occurs to Nick that “no one swooned backward on Gatsby and no French bob touch Gatsby‟s shoulder and no singing quartets were formed with Gatsby‟s head for one link” (55). He is alone, a solitary host surrounded by many people.
Why doesn‟t any one know Gatsby? Does he have any friends at the party? (Gatsby is a figure alone – in this party scene and throughout the novel. He has no interest in cultivating friends, and he remains aloof, even at his own parties so it is difficult for someone to strike up conversation with him.) While Gatsby is speaking privately with Jordan Baker, Nick wanders inside the mansion.
He finds a drunken woman singing a song while weeping copious tears, and everywhere he turns he overhears husbands and wives arguing.
What is the significance of this scene? (To illustrate how raucous the party is, to show how many different types of people flock to these gatherings. Gatsby is surrounded by high drama, but does not show a passing interest in it. All this adds to the mystery: why does he have these parties if he does not enjoy them? For Daisy, of course, as we learn later.) What is the significance of Gatsby‟s two phone calls (one from Chicago and one from Philadelphia) during the party? (The mysterious calls heighten the mystery surrounding the man.) Mystery surrounds Gatsby. Some say he killed a man, others say that he was a German spy during the war; Jordan tells Nick that she heard he went to Oxford, but she doesn‟t believe it. Nick wants to know more about Gatsby too; his curiosity is peaked. What does Fitzgerald do to surround Gatsby with mystery? (Fitzgerald slowly imparts information about Gatsby to his readers, forcing us to piece it E.S. Bakalian; email@example.com 10 together. Nick relates the information he learns in the order that he thinks is necessary, but it is not in chronological order. Gatsby appears to be a “regular fellow,” but his speech is formal and he is an awkward figure, even at his own parties. This too builds mystery.) Gatsby‟s party is a wild night of excess, with the air of a staged affair. It is completely different from Myrtle‟s cramped and pathetic party. Gatsby‟s party draws a diverse group of people together for a common purpose – to dance, drink, and eat in lavish style. What do you think of the party? What kind of people are the partygoers? (The party-goers are absurd revelers who drink too much and throw abandon to the wind. They represent the new, loose moral code of America – women who dance alone, women and men who drink too much and are not embarrassed or ostracized for it. Their excesses are vulgar, the party is out of control. ) E.S. Bakalian; firstname.lastname@example.org 11 Chapter IV – pages 64-85 In Chapter IV Nick learns a little bit more about Gatsby. He learns about his past from Jordan Baker, and he sees some of his present life firsthand, when he and Gatsby lunch together in New York.
One morning Gatsby drives his “gorgeous car” to Nick‟s house and announces that they are having lunch together in New York. Nick describes the ride into New York as “disconcerting” because Gatsby leaves his “elegant sentences unfinished,” and seems generally out of sorts (69). Gatsby claims to be the son of “some wealthy people in the middle-west,” and tells him that he was educated at Oxford (69). Nick does not quite believe him and wonders if “there wasn‟t something a little sinister about him after all” (69). Then, just as quickly, Nick decides changes his mind: “For a moment I suspected that he was pulling my leg but a glance at him convinced me otherwise” (70). Gatsby tells Nick that he “accepted a commission as first lieutenant” when the War began, eventually receiving medals for valor,” even from “little Montenegro down on the Adriatic Sea!” (71). Nick is completed mesmerized by Gatsby‟s story and says “My incredulity was submerged in fascination now; it was like skimming hastily through a dozen magazines” (71). Gatsby produces the Montenegro medal, and a picture of himself taken in the Trinity Quad at Oxford. Nick decides that everything he has heard about Gatsby “is all true” (71).
Does Nick want to believe Gatsby? What do you think of Gatsby? (Yes Nick wants to believe Gatsby. He is fascinated by him and enjoys being in his presence.) At lunch Gatsby introduces Nick to Meyer Wolfsheim, a gambler who “fixed the World‟s Series back in 1919” (78). What does Nick think about Gatsby‟s business associate, Meyer Wolfsheim? (Nick is “staggered” by the idea that a person could fix the World‟s Series, and is probably surprised to have met such a person. He thinks he should be in jail. Meeting Wolfsheim gives Nick a glimpse of Gatsby‟s under-world connections.) E.S. Bakalian; email@example.com 12 Gatsby has told Nick that he has asked Jordan Baker to speak to him on his behalf. Over tea at the Plaza Hotel, Jordan relates to Nick the story which Gatsby has told her. Some of the story Jordan can supply herself since she grew up with Daisy in Louisville. Before the War Daisy Fay was the most popular and the richest of all the girls, and Gatsby was one of her many suitors. Jordan tells Nick what she knows of the romance between Daisy and Jay Gatsby, including the rumor that circulated at the time that Daisy tried to sneak out of her parents‟ home to say “goodbye to a soldier who was going overseas” (80). When Daisy wed Tom Buchanan, Jordan was one of bridesmaids. The day before the wedding she found Daisy “drunk as a monkey,” clutching a letter while crying that she changed her mind, and wasn‟t going to marry Tom Buchanan (81). The letter was from Gatsby. After their wedding, Jordan didn‟t see the Buchanans until after their honeymoon, but when she did, she thought that Daisy was completely in love with Tom.
Jordan next saw the couple in various places – Cannes, Deauville, Chicago. “They moved with a fast crowd, all of them young and rich and wild, but she [Daisy] came out with an absolutely perfect reputation” (82). Jordan reminds Nick that the name “Jay Gatsby” came up during the Buchanans‟ dinner party a few weeks ago, and that that was the first time Daisy had heard her former boyfriend‟s name in years. Nick surmises that the whole thing is a “strange coincidence,” but Jordan tells him that Gatsby deliberately “bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay” (83). Nick thinks back to when he saw Gatsby reaching out towards the stars that night on his front lawn, and realizes that “it had not been merely the stars to which…Gatsby had aspired on that June night” (83).
Is Gatsby still in love with Daisy? What is the significance of the green light on the dock? (Yes Gatsby is in love with Daisy. The green light is located on the end of Daisy‟s dock, and it represents “Daisy” to Gatsby – she is seemingly within his reach. ) Does Daisy know Gatsby lives across the bay from her house? (No she does not. She lost touch with him when she married Tom, but Gatsby has been reading the local papers in hopes of catching any mention of her name.) Gatsby wants Nick to arrange a meeting between him and Daisy at his home. Nick is shocked by such a simple request. Why won‟t Gatsby invite Daisy to his own house?
E.S. Bakalian; firstname.lastname@example.org 13
Chapter V – pages 86-102 In exchange for the favor of inviting Daisy to his home so that Gatsby can meet her, Gatsby offers Nick a chance to make some money in one of his business deals. Nick immediately cuts him off mid-sentence.
Nick is not a successful bonds salesman, and he could use the money. Why doesn‟t he accept Gatsby‟s offer? (Nick views the offer as tactless and as a gift for a service to be rendered. Nick may also be unwilling to be mixed up in any of Gatsby‟s illegal doings. He has met Meyer Wolfsheim and is uncomfortable in his presence. Nick‟s refusal points to his moral core, something that becomes more prominent at the novel‟s end.) Gatsby arrives at Nick‟s house before Daisy. He is noticeably nervous, and he threatens to leave before she arrives. At his own parties Gatsby is a cool, almost removed host who creates a sparkling event to delight the frenetic pleasure-seekers who attend his parties. This is the first time we have seen him ill-at-ease. When Daisy enters the room he tries to look nonchalant, and leans “against the mantelpiece in a strained counterfeit of perfect ease, even of boredom (91).
Why is Gatsby so nervous? (He is scared to death because he is meeting his dream face-to-face for the first time in 5 years. He has built up his dream, pinning everything upon it, and now here she is. It is a monumental moment for him;
everything is riding on it.) Nick manages to leave the pair alone for awhile, and when he returns to the house, “every vestige of embarrassment was gone” (94). Daisy is crying tears of “unexpected joy,” and Gatsby “literally glowed; without a word or a gesture of exultation a new well-being radiated from him and filled the little room” (94).
What is happening to Gatsby? What change has come over him? (Gatsby is overjoyed to see Daisy, to have her at his side in his house. Fitzgerald writes that “he was consumed with wonder at her presence” (97). He is more than a man in love, he is a man in the presence of the dream he has dreamed for a long time. ) E.S. Bakalian; email@example.com 15 Gatsby shows Daisy and Nick his home. They walk through beautifully decorated rooms “swathed in rose and lavender silks and vivid with new flowers,” they see poolrooms, “bathrooms with sunken baths,” all the wonderful delights that money can buy (96). Gatsby cannot take his eyes off Daisy. He seems a different man in her presence; indeed, he seems astonished by her very presence: “Once he nearly toppled down a flight of stairs” (96). Gatsby is re-evaluating “everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes” (96-97).
Gatsby shows them his bedroom, and Nick is surprised by how plain it is. Other rooms in the mansion are sumptuous, but his room is “the simplest room of all” (97).
What does the plainness of Gatsby‟s private rooms signify? (Gatsby‟s wealth is not important to him, for it was only something he needed to acquire so he could compete for his treasured prize, Daisy. Daisy, and all that she represents, is all he wants.) Next Gatsby shows them his immense shirt collection. Daisy suddenly begins to sob, burying her head into the shirts. Why does she cry? (Daisy cries for the past – her tears have nothing to do with the shirts. She remembers her youth, before she met Tom, when she loved Gatsby. ) Gatsby, Nick, and Daisy look out his window through the rain towards Daisy‟s house, and Gatsby tells Daisy that her home is directly across the bay from his: “You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock” (98). Daisy puts her arm possessively through Gatsby‟s, but he does not seem to notice. Fitzgerald writes that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one (98).
What does Fitzgerald mean when he writes that Gatsby‟s “count of enchanted objects had diminished by one?” Has the green light lost its significance? (To Gatsby the green light represented Daisy and Daisy represented Gatsby‟s dream of wealth and everything attached to it. Now that Daisy is sitting next to him, the green light is no E.S. Bakalian; firstname.lastname@example.org 16 longer an enchanted object but a real object – a green light. Gatsby has dreamed of this moment for so long that it is difficult to let go of the dream and accept the reality.
Gatsby is too dazzled to be able to think clearly.) Gatsby and Daisy are holding hands when Nick leaves. Gatsby bends close to Daisy to hear her voice, that voice which “held him most with its fluctuating, feverish warmth because it couldn‟t be over-dreamed – that voice was a deathless song” (101).
What does it mean that Daisy‟s voice is a “deathless song”? (That in her voice one hears hope, of things to come, of joy, of love, of promises. It‟s a romantic voice that sings like a song.) Later Gatsby characterizes Daisy‟s voice as a voice “is full of money” (127). Nick agrees: “That was it. I‟d never understood it before. It was full of money – that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals‟ song of it….
High in a white palace the king‟s daughter, the golden girl…” (127). Daisy‟s voice is the voice of money and wealth and all the things that Gatsby spent the last five years trying to gain. He has succeeded beyond belief, yet he does not have “the king‟s daughter, the golden girl,” Daisy (127).
What connotations does Fitzgerald bring to mind when he uses such words as “the king‟s daughter, the golden girl,” to describe Daisy? (127). (By using such words Daisy loses her identity as a young woman and becomes the ultimate prize, the princess in the ivory tower. Images of a young girl in Louisville who is besieged with suitors comes to mind, and indeed, Jordan Baker tells Nick that that‟s the way it was.