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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.



–Edward Thomas

Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain
On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me
Remembering again that I shall die
And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks
For washing me cleaner than I have been
Since I was born into this solitude.
Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:
But here I pray that none whom once I loved
Is dying tonight or lying still awake
Solitary, listening to the rain,
Either in pain or thus in sympathy
Helpless among the living and the dead,
Like a cold water among broken reeds,
Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff,
Like me who have no love which this wild rain
Has not dissolved except the love of death,
If love it be for what is perfect and
Cannot, the tempest tells me,

7 January, 1916

The Great Gatsby: thoughts on chapter III

“…the two or three people of whom I asked [Gatsby’s] whereabouts stared at me in such an amazed way, and denied so vehemently any knowledge of his movements, that I slunk off in the direction of the cocktail table” (42). It is good manners to find, and be greeted by, the host.

innuendo appears several times.

The owl-eyed man (45) appears only twice (not counting his exit from the party), yet his character embodies character.  You’ll meet several people like this in your life.

Belasco (46)

The meeting of Nick and “the young roughneck.” Compare the paragraph focusing on his smile with that of the focus on Daisy’s voice (9).

“I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy” (50).

Mascara as musical notation. (51)

Honesty. (58-60) Nick gives himself the “cardinal virtue” of honesty. Does this hold with his NYC side trip with Tom and Myrtle in chapter two?


The Buchanan’s mansion

The Buchanon's mansion

The film set visualization.

Gatsby’s mansion

Gatsby's mansion

An idea of the grandeur: film set visualization compared to the actual building that might have inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The Great Gatsby: some thoughts, chapters I and II

“To a certain temperament the situation might have seemed intriguing” means that some people enjoy watching the “drama” and secrecy of affairs of others: Jordan Baker’s actions appear to put her in this category. “–my own instinct was to telephone immediately for the police”(16). Nick is alarmed. But then how would he explain his actions in chapter two?

“as if to a vigil beside a perfectly tangible body” (16). Be prepared to explain the simile.

Daisy doesn’t seem to be serious about anything; when she says “I’ve had a very bad time, Nick, and I’m pretty cynical about everything,” (17) do we believe she becomes so? Why? Where was Tom when Daisy gave birth? And her statement about what a what a woman should be?

“God–I’m sophisticated” (18).

“as if she had asserted her membership in a rather distinguished secret society to which she and Tom belonged” (18).

Come back to 16-18 at the climax and denouement of the novel. It’s like a slap. Or perhaps a punch, depending on how much validity you are willing to give to Gatsby’s dream.

Chapter II

The imagery of the “farm” that grows men and cars from ash (23-26).

smoke/spirit/gray/ghostly/body vs. ectoplasm. Note the shifts of the spatial within the chapter.

Myrtle is not beautiful per se, but…

“you’d of thought she had my appendicitis out” (31). This says of her character…

The grotesque image of the whirling, enlarging Myrtle (31).

Is Tom in love with Myrtle? No. What’s your evidence for that?