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Gatsby, chapter IV

Pay attention to the ironies of lying and honesty and integrity that arise in this chapter.

The modern reader might find some of the descriptions in this chapter to be racist—“the tragic eyes and short upper lips of southeastern Europe” and “three modish negroes.” Bear two things in mind:

This was, unfortunately, the terminology of the day. Science at that time posited that different ethnicities were physiologically-distinct races of humans. Faulkner, via narrator Nick, uses descriptors of the time.

Wolfsheim’s characterization is laden with Jewish stereotype. In your reading, do you get a sense that Nick is anti-Semitic? (How does your judgement change as the plot develops?)

As enlightened readers in the 21st century, we understand the limitations of that time. Bear in mind that on page one, Nick tells us that he is “inclined to reserve all judgments.”

”…he began to eat with ferocious delicacy.” What manners of speaking suggest that Wolfsheim is a gangster?

The end of luncheon segues into Jordan becoming the narrator of a tale from 1917, five years in the past. “He came alive to me, delivered suddenly from the womb of his purposeless splendor.” Compare this to “an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness” as used to describe Gatsby on page two.

 


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