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Chapter 1
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning
over in my mind ever since.
"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this
world haven't had the advantages that you've had."
He didn't say any more, but we've always been unusually communicative in a reserved way, and I
understood that he meant a great deal more than that. In consequence, I'm inclined to reserve all
judgments, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of
not a few veteran bores. The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality when it
appears in a normal person, and so it came about that in college I was unjustly accused of being a
politician, because I was privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men. Most of the confidences
were unsought -- frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized
by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon for the intimate
revelations of young men, or at least the terms in which they express them, are usually plagiaristic
and marred by obvious suppressions. Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope. I am still a
little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly
repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth.
And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that it has a limit. Conduct
may be founded on the hard rock or the wet marshes, but after a certain point I don't care what it's
founded on. When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in
uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged
glimpses into the human heart. Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt
from my reaction -- Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. If
personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about
him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate
machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do
with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the "creative temperament."--
it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other
person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. No -- Gatsby turned out all right at the end
it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed
out my interest in the abortive sorrows and shortwinded elations of men.
My family have been prominent, welltodo people in this Middle Western city for three generations.
The Carraways are something of a clan, and we have a tradition that we're descended from the
Dukes of Buccleuch, but the actual founder of my line was my grandfather's brother, who came here
in fiftyone, sent a substitute to the Civil War, and started the wholesale hardware business that my
father carries on today.
I never saw this greatuncle, but I'm supposed to look like him -- with special reference to the
rather hardboiled painting that hangs in father's office I graduated from New Haven in 1915, just a
quarter of a century after my father, and a little later I participated in that delayed Teutonic migration
known as the Great War. I enjoyed the counterraid so thoroughly that I came back restless.
Instead of being the warm centre of the world, the Middle West now seemed like the ragged edge
of the universe -- so I decided to go East and learn the bond business. Everybody I knew was in

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I supposed it could support one more single man. All my aunts and uncles
talked it over as if they were choosing a prep school for me, and finally said, "Why -- ye -- es,"
with very grave, hesitant faces. Father agreed to finance me for a year, and after various delays I
came East, permanently, I thought, in the spring of twentytwo.…read more

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Gatsby's mansion. Or, rather, as I didn't know Mr. Gatsby, it was a mansion
inhabited by a gentleman of that name. My own house was an eyesore, but it was a small eyesore,
and it had been overlooked, so I had a view of the water, a partial view of my neighbor's lawn, and
the consoling proximity of millionaires -- all for eighty dollars a month.…read more

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I always had the impression that he approved of me and wanted me to like him with
some harsh, defiant wistfulness of his own.
We talked for a few minutes on the sunny porch.
"I've got a nice place here," he said, his eyes flashing about restlessly.…read more

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I looked back at my cousin, who began to ask me questions in her low, thrilling voice. It was the
kind of voice that the ear follows up and down, as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will
never be played again.…read more

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At this point Miss Baker said: "Absolutely!" with such suddenness that I started -- it was the first
word she uttered since I came into the room. Evidently it surprised her as much as it did me, for she
yawned and with a series of rapid, deft movements stood up into the room.
"I'm stiff," she complained, "I've been lying on that sofa for as long as I can remember.…read more

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Before I could answer her eyes fastened with an awed expression on her little finger.
"Look!" she complained "I hurt it."
We all looked -- the knuckle was black and blue.
"You did it, Tom," she said accusingly. "I know you didn't mean to, but you did do it. That's what I
get for marrying a brute of a man, a great, big, hulking physical specimen of a ----"
"I hate that word hulking," objected Tom crossly, "even in kidding."
"Hulking," insisted Daisy.…read more

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This idea is that we're Nordics. I am, and you are, and you are, and ----" After an infinitesimal
hesitation he included Daisy with a slight nod, and she winked at me again. "-- And we've
produced all the things that go to make civilization -- oh, science and art, and all that. Do you see?"
There was something pathetic in his concentration, as if his complacency, more acute than of old,
was not enough to him any more.…read more

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You mean to say you don't know?" said Miss Baker, honestly surprised. "I thought everybody
"I don't."
"Why ----" she said hesitantly, "Tom's got some woman in New York."
"Got some woman?" I repeated blankly.
Miss Baker nodded.
"She might have the decency not to telephone him at dinner time. Don't you think?"
Almost before I had grasped her meaning there was the flutter of a dress and the crunch of leather
boots, and Tom and Daisy were back at the table.…read more

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I wasn't back from the war."
"That's true." She hesitated. "Well, I've had a very bad time, Nick, and I'm pretty cynical about
Evidently she had reason to be. I waited but she didn't say any more, and after a moment I returned
rather feebly to the subject of her daughter.
"I suppose she talks, and -- eats, and everything."
"Oh, yes." She looked at me absently. "Listen, Nick let me tell you what I said when she was born.…read more


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