This Chapter at last gives some insight into the complexities of Gatsby’s
The reader up until now has only obtained third hand gossip from the minor characters in the book, but first there appears one of the most entertaining passages of the whole novel – Nick’s view of the guests who attend Gatsby’s parties for which he has kept a roll call.
- The Stonewall Jackson Abrams of Georgia
- The Cheadles
- S. W. Belcher
- Miss Haag
- James B. Rotgut Ferret
- The Smirks
- The Schraders
Each has a brief note of their activities, thus an impression of the Jazz
Age society is obtained.
Nick obtains further details about Gatsby while they are driving to New
York in Gatsby’s yellow Rolls Royce. This is, of course, Gatsby’s number one status symbol.
In America, perhaps more than anywhere else, the car has significant symbolism. Fitzgerald uses this to great effect. The car is Gatsby’s pride and joy, but through a complex chain of events, the car brings about his destruction, a dream based purely on possessions alone will fade away and evaporate.
Passing through the gray landscape of the Valley of Ashes, Gatsby gives
some details to Nick regarding his past life. Nick obtains a mixture of truth and lies from Gatsby about his past and the tale seems improbable, but Gatsby produces the odd photograph and war medal to support
A traffic policeman quickly halts their fast trip, but Gatsby flashes a white card at the officer who apologizes and allows them to proceed. At lunch in New York they meet Meyer Wolfshein, a business associate, who seems a dubious character with underground business connections. Nick now suspects that Gatsby’s wealth stems from ill gathered gains derived from the sleazy world of crime, drugs and alcohol. Wolfsheim claims to be responsible for the fixing of the 1919 World Series, which in actual fact was rigged. Wolfsheim is in awe of Gatsby’s standing and refinement, but he himself is almost a ridiculous figure with his cufflinks made out of human teeth, and a comical nostalgia giving another insight into the fragile base on which Gatsby’s dream stands.
After lunch Nick meets Jordan who gives an account of Gatsby and Daisy’s
early relationship. Fitzgerald uses another flashback to provide a few more pieces of the enigma that is Gatsby. According to Jordan, during the war Daisy was the center of attraction for the Military
Officers in the town of Louisville, but Daisy fell in love with Lt. J. Gatsby though she chooses to marry Tom once Gatsby leaves for the war. Just prior to the wedding she received a letter from Gatsby, so she
drank herself into a stupor the night before. Although Tom was unfaithful throughout their marriage, Daisy apparently remained faithful.
It is clear that Gatsby has cut himself off from his real past and has
created his own personal background which he has now revealed to Nick as he feels he can trust him with the story. Nick sees through the fa'ade and deduces that this personal history is at least partly
However, Nick remains impressed by Gatsby’s boundless hope for the future which lies with Daisy, his only love. Nick cannot decide whether Gatsby is the lovesick war veteran, which is clearly an attractive figure, or a crooked businessman with no morals and single-mindedly set on making his fortune.