The first several pages of this chapter describe the range of people who visit Gatsby’s house and parties over the summer. Remember that.
Then Gatsby comes rolling up to Nick’s house in the Gatsbymobile. They go for a ride when things turn serial killerish when Gatsby asks if Nick likes him. Before Nick can answer, Gatsby starts talking about his past and something just does not sit right. Mostly, its all the lies mixed with the truthiness of his demeanor. Then Gatsby mentions that Miss Baker will tell him something at tea that afternoon and then just shuts up about it.
As they enter the city, a policeman attempts to pull them over. Gatsby pulls out a card and flashes it and the policeman says, “Whoops, sorry, wrong dude in the flashiest car ever. You kids have fun” and leaves Gatsby to drive like a maniac in the streets of New York.
The two of them go for lunch with an associate of Gatsby’s named Wolfsheim. They talk with a minor issue about who Nick is supposed to be. They are all friendly, though and start eating and Gatsby apologizes for not telling Nick what Jordan will tell him at tea. Then Wolfsheim vouches for Gatsby’s character, shows Nick his molar cuff links and leaves. After Wolfsheim leaves, Gatsby tells Nick about how Wolfsheim fixed the 1919 World Series and hints at other not legal business ventures. Then, as they are leaving, Nick notices Tom and goes to introduce him to Gatsby but Gatsby leaves without saying much.
Later, at afternoon tea, Jordan Baker tells Nick the history of Gatsby and Daisy. I know.
Seems that when Gatsby was a young soldier, he met and fell in love with Daisy. He left to go fight in the war, but she got tired of waiting and married Tom. On her wedding day, she got a letter from Gatsby and freaked her shit, but still got married. Not too long after, Tom was involved in a car accident when he was caught with a chambermaid. After that they had a child and the story catches up to the present.
Jordan then tells Nick that Gatsby bought the house to be close to Daisy. Gatsby threw the big parties so that Daisy would come by, but she never did. (Which is why I told you to remember that list at the beginning of all the people... eh... eh?) Knowing that Nick is close to Daisy, Gatsby also wants Nick to invite Gatsby over to tea with Daisy without her knowledge.
Encouraged by every other man in his life getting some or wanting to get some, Nick kisses Jordan.
The intro here to the Gatsbymobile is interesting as it shows the reader and Nick a certain view of Gatsby. The brash, daring driver who can turn the police away with his business card is certainly not the man that is described at the end of the story.
This is a crazy tipping chapter. If Nick or the reader had gotten the wrong idea about Gatsby at this juncture, that he was a complete outlaw ass, the the story itself folds as does Nick’s participation. By hinting and not outright saying that Gatsby is a criminal, he remains in the roguish camp and not in the dangerous camp. He might still steal your car, but he would help you change the flat first. His choice in companions adds to this, as molar dude is both likable and dangerous as well as someone whose knowledge and opinion Nick comes to trust.
The first sign that something may be going wrong is Gatsby’s reaction to Tom, but this is immediately fixed in the next section where Jordan tells Daisy and Gatsby’s history. And here we find the meat of the story, the major reason everything has happened. The large house, the grand parties, the invitation to Nick, the secret meeting with Jordan, all of it has been so that Gatsby can orchestrate a happenstance meeting with the love of his life Daisy. This tells us a few things about Gatsby, mostly that he is a hopeless romantic and that he believes that if something does not just happen, even if the happenstance is orchestrated, then it does not happen for real. He genuinely wants Daisy to just stumble on the information that he is rich and powerful rather than go up to her and tell her that. He wants the surprise of their first meeting, the surprise of when they were young to be replicated. This... this is heartbreaking. That one man would go to such lengths shows both a grand hopefulness and a sad boyishness.
Like Nick, I suspect, I want to appeal to Gatsby’s logical side while at the same time indulge his bravado because as a rational person I cannot do the things he has done. The story of an innocent heart being set up for dissappointment is bitter sweet now, looking back on experience. When reading this when I was younger I remember cheering Gatsby on, shaking my head and answering “of course that’s what you do, you impress and get the girl.” Now, that ideal of a white knight seems sad when based on my own experiences trying to live up to that and failing. Being truthful to yourself, reaching to the stars as Gatsby does but knowing that you are standing on the ground... This story changes and it changes with this chapter.
We are no longer reading a story about drunken twenty and thirty somethings staggering through life with little meaning. We are reading a story of romance and the heartbreak of that romance, the knowledge settling in before the lovers even meet.
"Old Sport" Count
If you have been reading straight through and taking shots, this would be the chapter that might kill you. So far, at least.
- Have you ever loved someone you could not have? Does Angela Lansbury have a restraining order on you, too?
- When having lunch with a friend, do you often invite your shady business partners?
- The song goes “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you are with.” Discuss.
- Do you think Nick is only with Jordan because of Gatsby’s story? Do you think it helped him get lucky that night?