Jordan Baker - The Great Gatsby

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  • Created by: Molly
  • Created on: 27-02-13 12:05

Jordan Baker

Jordan Baker is also from Louisville, Kentucky. Different to Tom and Daisy, her only living relative is an aunt. Being a famous professional golf player, she represents the new type of woman in the 20s. She is harsh, self-sufficient and always does her own thing meaning she does not need a man to help and guide her through life. Jordan is a very sportive and also masculine woman with an erect carriage. She is a “slender, small-breasted girl” (14,20). Jordan always wants to win whatever it takes. Being a very dishonest person she even lies in order to get what she wants. This is a reason why she tries to avoid meetings with clever men (48,1.32). Nevertheless she needs attention from the men surrounding her. Jordan basically just plays with the men's feelings and is not really interested in a relationship. You can see this very clearly when she tells Nick Carraway that she has a boyfriend.

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Jordan and Nick Similar

Nick Carraway, though, has a special relationship with Jordan in a for us maybe unbelievable way. One second they love each other but later both of them go their own direction again. They are on the same wave length. In general, Jordan also likes going to parties at Gatsby's house although she does not like the host himself (43). In The Great Gatsby Jordan plays an important role. She is the one who introduces Nick to Gatsby and her curiosity also leads us through the book and helps us find out more about the other main characters.

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Nick's attraction for Jordan

A beautiful and successful professional golfer, Jordan is a source of immediate fascination to Nick for the way in which she holds herself. In fact, Nick is so startled by her cool demeanor - “her chin raised a little, as if she were balancing something on it which was quite likely to fall” - that he almost feels he needs to offer some kind of apology for “having disturbed her by coming in.” This statement, coupled with the angelic image of Jordan and Daisy in their fluttering white dresses, serves to make her seem other-worldly. This unattainablility factors into Nick’s attraction to her - an attraction noted fairly promptly. Nick “enjoyed looking at her”, with her stance “like a young cadet” and “wan, charming, discontented face.” Here it can be seen that, like Daisy, Jordan holds a veiled sadness, or at least restlessness, inside her that cannot be sated by her success, fame, or beauty.

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Jordan Baker as Masculine

It can also be noted that she is described in quite an androgynous way, with her “cadet”-like stance, and “small-breasted”-ness. She also seems to have quite a prickly manner, speaking “contemptuously” to Nick and seeming “to have mastered a certain hardy scepticism”. These traits paint her as a woman who, understandably, is unwilling to expose her weaknesses. Perhaps it comes from her playing a male-dominated sport competetively and for a living that gives her this quality, and Nick seems to like it. His admiration of her breaks intermittently through his romantic prose, and one view of it could be that for him, her almost cynical attitude distances her from the “remotely rich” Daisy and Tom - even though “remotely rich” is almost exactly what Jordan Baker is, as the possibility of her marriage to Nick in the distant future is shrugged off as an impossibility due to his pennilessness.

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Jordan vs Tom

However, we can also see a little of the futility of her actions. She is talked over when attempting to add something to the conversation which Tom seems determined to dominate with his racist rant, and though she does achieve some level of elevation in this chapter, it is marred by the fact that it is largely achieved through her decidedly more “masculine” (by the standards of the time) actions. Looking at it in this way, it is easy to see why Fitzgerald dubbed The Great Gatsby “a man’s book.”

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American Dream

Given the restrictions of the time, she manages to gain a certain level of freedom - from being ruled over by a husband or father, although the former seems near in her future by the end of the novel. That she does this by ‘playing’ the societal ‘game’ is hardly to be criticised - is it not the sensible option? The ultimate futility of her quest for the American Dream (which was promised to all Americans, including women, but which Fitzgerald shows may have been merely an empty dream that was only really achievable by the male elite) does not undermine her efforts. She seems to live a somewhat more fulfilled existence than Daisy and Tom - although this point could be argued against, too - and I can’t help but applaud her for it. She is a very real character to me (though admittedly I haven’t yet untangled my reasons as to why).

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