The Great Gatsby Chapter One

The Great Gatsby Chapter One

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Rhiannon Edwards C6AP
Chapter One
Nick Carraway introduces himself as the narrator
He's just moved to West Egg, a "commuting town" near New York, to start a career in bonds
He goes to dinner in East Egg with the Buchanans - his cousin Daisy and her husband Tom. At
dinner he meets Jordan Baker - a professional golfer
Tom is revealed to be racist. He's also having an affair with an unnamed woman
Nick returns home and sees Gatsby next door, reaching out across the water towards a
green light.
1) It's made clear that the events in the novel have already taken place - the characters' fates
are already decided
2) Most of the main characters are introduced. Even Myrtle is present in a way - her phone call
interrupts dinner.
3) Nick talks about "Midas and Morgan and Maecenas" - all three men were renowned by their
incredible wealth. Morgan and Maecenas were real men, whereas Midas's story is a Greek
myth. By mentioning both mythical and real people in the first chapter, Fitzgerald hints that
myth and reality will be mixed throughout the book
1) Immediately noticeable that his style is challenging; his sentences can be grammatically
complex and his vocabulary is at times obscure. He is sharing with us the recollection of
certain significant experiences. The process by which he comes to terms with those
experiences and develops an understanding of them is by telling them to the reader.
2) Nick claims that he remembers his father's advice when he meets new people - other people
haven't had the "advantages that [he's] has". This gives the impression that he's tolerant,
and has strong moral and family values.
3) Nick's allusion to his father's advice establishes the novel's larger concern with the
relationship of the present to the past and with what is transmitted from one generation to
the other. This is relevant to Gatsby's past; his rejection of his parents and his association
with Dan Cody but also to the history of America, which broke away from the paternal rule of
European monarchy and declared itself as a new country.
4) However, Nick admits that he repeats his father's advice "snobbishly" and the fact that his
father had to tell him not to judge people too harshly suggests that this is one of Nick's
failing. Nick's claim that he has a better "sense of the fundamental decencies" than most
people also makes him seem judgemental. This mix of self-awareness and arrogance is
typical of the complex contradictions in Nick's character.
5) There are hints that Nick can be intolerable and judgemental, e.g. he says that he "feigned
sleep" when people confided in him, he views Gatsby's life with "unaffected scorn" and he's
"disgusted" by Tom and Daisy's marriage. This makes the reader less trusting of his narration
because it suggests that he's dishonest.
6) Nick sometimes misreads situations, which also makes his narration untrustworthy. He thinks
Daisy has everything she wants to he sees in her eyes "the absence of all desire". But we
later find out that she has "had a very bad time"

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Rhiannon Edwards C6AP
7) Nick adds bias to his description of Tom, employing words and phrases from an aggressively
masculine semantic field; "supercilious", "arrogant", "enormous power", "dominance",
"cruel", "fractiousness", "enormous power" and "paternal contempt".
Fitzgerald uses the superficial similarities between the Eggs to emphasise how different they
really are - they're "identical in contour", but dissimilar "in every particular except shape and
size".…read more

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Rhiannon Edwards C6AP
Conservative and autocratic but not as refined as it appears. E.g. tom is "aggressive"
and "hulking", where typically the upper classes should be polite and well-mannered.
Fashionable but fake. Its appealing surface hides unattractive realities - the Buchanans
marriage isn't as happy as it seems, and Daisy's looks and wealth mask a bored,
cynical and empty interior.…read more

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Rhiannon Edwards C6AP
5) Daisy has some control over Tom - she shakes "her head decisively" and wont let him answer
the second call. But she still has to pretend with "tense gaiety" that everything is fine and put
a brave face on her humiliation.
The ringing of a telephone is just one indicator that this is a twentieth-century technological
environment, the world of cinema, cars, motor boats, hydroplanes and gramophones.…read more

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Rhiannon Edwards C6AP
2) The French windows are glowing `gold', reflecting the light of the setting sun. The lighting
adds to the impression of richness and luxury created by the elaborate house and its
extensive gardens.
3) When conversation is friendly, the light is soft and "rosy-coloured" - this makes it seem warm
and happy and Nick visits on a "warm, windy evening"
4) When Tom's mistress phones "the glow faded".…read more


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