Nick is about to attend one of Gatsby’s parties, so of course he has to tell you every little thing about it first. To sum up: s^%t is elaborate.
Nick then tells us he is the only person he knows of (of which is nobody we are shown) to get an invitation. He goes and attempts to find Gatsby but cannot, so he says f#%k it and starts drinking.
Enter the dame, Jordan Baker. The two of them walk around the party while some girls admire Miss Baker’s status as a golf pro and how Gatsby is a wanton murderer, philanderer, spyerer and all about bad guy-erer.
After the gossip mill, everyone eats. Jordan’s escort is an ass, but she chooses to hang with Nick. They go to a library of sorts where they talk to an old man about how real the books are and how they arrived.
The night and the party go on, and much fun is had by all, including Nick who is hanging with Miss Baker still. Then he meets a man and talks to him for a bit before discovering that the man is the host, Gatsby himself. (Begin the game of taking a drink everytime Gatsby says “old sport”). Gatsby smiles at Nick, the best smile anyone has ever smiled at anyone else ever, and the bromance of a lifetime begins.
Gatsby excuses himself to take a phone call and Nick starts giggling with Jordan about his new man-crush. Jordan negs Gatsby behind his back by saying that she does not believe his story of being an Oxford man and she thinks he killed a dude, but that’s cool cause he throws kickass shindigs.
The band plays a big number and after the butler asks Jordan if she will step away to have a talk with Gatsby. She goes and Nick watches all the couples of fight as the party winds down. When she returns an hour later she is excited and says she has learned something, but can’t say and leaves.
Nick and Gatsby talk for a bit before Gatsby is called away to the telephone.
Outside, the drunk old dude from the library has a crash in his car. After a bit of argument, the story moves on.
Nick steps back and goes into narrator mode, commenting that what we have read so far are just a few things he has done. He has also worked and eaten and stuff and totally has had sex with girls. Then he admits that he and Jordan spent a lot of time together and that he is kinda into her even though she lies and can’t drive.
He ends the chapter by admitting he’s an okay honest guy.
Old Sport Count: 4
This chapter services three things: Gatsby, Jordan Baker, and Accidents. All are the set up to something that will happen later; all are the first in a long line of important acts that play out some behind the scenes as our story unfolds. Each informs the other while at the same time starts plot threads or ideas to inform the reader and give a coda to start from.
First, lets get Gatsby overwith. We meet first his plans, then his house, then himself. We see he has an eye for intricate planning, a generosity of hosting, a warmness in personality and a few eccentricities that make him human. Nick finds him to be a great guy right off the bat, from the invitation to the way he smiles, so much so that we see Gatsby may be romancing our narrator a bit, even to the point of finding common ground on their first meeting. The guests may talk about our man Gatsby, but narrator Nick waits to speak to the man himself and finds Gatsby a righteous dude. At this point in the story, the reader may have his doubts about Gatsby and the strange times he is called away, but not Nick.
After Nick falls for Gatsby, we also see the initial romancing of Jordan Baker. Throwing away all symbolism of Jordan as a prototypical woman and as an expy for Gatsby, she is a strong character in that Nick does fall for her, especially after Gatsby shares a secret meeting with her. When she and Gatsby become closer, her and Nick become closer. That is not to say they were not getting along beforehand, they were and enjoying themselves to the point where she was ignoring the person who brought her, but the closeness they share lines up with Gatsby and the knowledge of him as a person. That she does not seem surprised at meeting Gatsby when he meets Nick informs this.
Enter the accidents. This chapter has at least two references to accidents near the end, one actual and one accused. The actual accident is a drunken mishap where a silly old man throws the wheel off his car and cannot understand what has happened. The second is Nick commenting that Jordan cannot drive with her lying self and her admitting as much. An astute reader can begin to link ideas in his or her mind... Who else is aloof and humorous with a sadness and a lying, womanly aspect... Not to say that all women are liars, but symbolism has a place in stories because symbols have meaning. In the real world, anyone or thing can mean anything at any time, but in this story “woman + humor + sadness = accident.” Chunk some booze in there and the foreshadowing becomes epic in nature.
This chapter could have easily been a mess. That it reads and flows easily from one idea to the next is testament to a master craftsman, even though the symbols and foreshadowing become thick they are not cumbersome and inform rather than lead the narrative. To those out there who don’t like too much over analyzation, why are you reading this, this is one of the most overanalyzed texts in existence and rightly so. This chapter alone should be held up as literary genius as the simplicity masks the complexity.
- Have you ever been to a party where you felt the need to comment on the oranges beforehand?
- What’s your history with drunk people in libraries?
- Have you ever been in love with a golf pro? Something something something “drive your balls”?
- Challenge for the day: Take a shot every time someone in real life says “old sport” unironically. The trick is to carry booze with you everywhere. Discuss.