The Great Gatsby Chapter 4

The Great Gatsby Chapter 4

HideShow resource information
Preview of The Great Gatsby Chapter 4

First 607 words of the document:

Chapter Four
Nick makes a list of some of the people who attended Gatsby's parties in summer 1922
Gatsby invites Nick to lunch in New York. Gatsby tells Nick a story about his past.
At lunch Nick meets Meyer Wolfshiem, a notorious gambler.
Nick meets Jordan for dinner and she explains that Gatsby and Daisy used to be in love.
1) Nick lists Gatsby's party guests. Nick drops names as if the reader should recognise them as
celebrities. He also lists their misbehaviour - they're remembered for gambling for "a fight
with a bum" and more sinister behaviour - one guest "killed himself" and another "strangled
his wife". This emphasises the darkness beneath the wealthy, carefree and lavish lifestyle.
2) Gatsby takes Nick to lunch with Wolfshiem. It's the first time the reader catches a glimpse of
the real Gatsby. His stories are so outrageous that they prompt the reader to wonder what
he's hiding. His connection with Wolfshiem raises the suspicion that Gatsby may be a criminal.
3) However, Jordan's description of Gatsby's past romance with Daisy gives a different
impression of Gatsby - it portrays him as an innocent, romantic young soldier and shows
another side to his personality. It also adds another layer or mystery.
This is a comic set piece, a literary exercise, which includes puns and verbal jokes. IT is quite distinct
from the lyrical prose in which much of the novel is written and seems more in keeping with a novel
of manners such as William Thackerary's Vanity Fair (1847-8), which F. Scott Fitzgerald admired, and
which contains similar lists.
Notice that there are plant names here: "Hornbeam", "endive", "Orchid", "duckweed"; and animal
names: "Civet", "Blackburn", "Beaver", "ferret"; and names of sea creatures; "Whitebait",
"Hammerhead" and "Beluga". Should we read these names as a satirical ploy, suggesting certain
characteristics associated with these natural phenomena that are shared by the characters sketched
in this shorthand way? If so, should we focus our attention on F. Scott Fitzgerald at work, the author
who gave plant names too to Daisy, Myrtle and Carraway, or on Nick the narrator, acutely aware of
stylistic issues in his storytelling and here indulging in a little mischievous wordplay?
In the narrative, Wolfshiem's reconstruction of the death of Rosy Rosenthal follows Gatsby's account
of his own history and precedes Jordan's recollection of her encounter with Daisy and the handsome
young lieutenant. The placing in Nick's narrative of Wolfshiem's tale of violence amongst gangsters
inevitably causes sinister overtones to reverberate into the framing glimpses of Gatsby's past.
Fitzgerald manages in this way to present Gatsby as the heroic soldier and as the innocent lover,
while hinting at his corruption.
Our readiness as readers to recognise such indirect hints is in part due to Nick's explicitly stated
doubts concerning Gatsby's own version of his story. He tells us that listening to this version was like
"skimming hastily through a dozen magazines". The simile is highly appropriate to his phase of
American history, where illustrated magazines promotes society gossip and helped create

Other pages in this set

Page 2

Preview of page 2

Here's a taster:

Hollywood legends, while also serving the requirements of modern advertising. Nick is suggesting
that although an image of Gatsby's past has become visible, the reality behind it is far from distinct.
On the journey into the city, Nick notices Americans originating from south-eastern
Europe attending a funeral, and black Americans in an expensive car, driven by a white
chauffeur. Both images obliquely foreshadow Gatsby's fate, while highlighting the fact
that America is composed of people from various racial and cultural backgrounds.…read more

Page 3

Preview of page 3

Here's a taster:

When they meet Meyer Wolfshiem, Gatsby's involvement with the criminal underworld is
strongly implied. They have lunch in the "half-darkness" of the cellar, which suggests it is a
place of shady dealings.
4) World Series - In 19191 the Chicago White Sox baseball team succumbed to bribery and
contrived to allow the Cincinnati Reds to win the World Series tournament. This was one of
America's greatest sporting scandals.…read more

Page 4

Preview of page 4

Here's a taster:

Jordan's story makes Gatsby into a more sympathetic character, and for Nick, Gatsby
becomes a real person - he was "delivered suddenly from the womb of his purposeless
splendour", and he can now see past the flashy character he had taken him for, showy with
no other purpose but showiness. Nick's changing opinion of Gatsby reminds the reader that
the novel is written from Nick's point of view, which introduces bias.…read more

Page 5

Preview of page 5

Here's a taster:

As they drive across Queensboro Bridge; "the sunlight through the girders (made) a constant flicker
upon the moving cars", and this contributes to its romantic appearance.
From the bright sunshine of `roaring noon', the lighting is suddenly changed as we are taken into a
cellar in `half-darkness'. In spite of its prohibition, alcohol is easy to obtain, and business is conducted
in illegal drinking dens where people `coolly' discuss immoral activities.…read more


No comments have yet been made

Similar English Literature resources:

See all English Literature resources »See all resources »