The Great Gatsby – Chapter 1

Chapter One

So, let’s begin! We start out with a reflection by our main character, actually, our narrator. The main character is actually Gatsby, and our narrator explicitly says that the book is titled The Great Gatsby after this man, Gatsby. Which is a little strange if you think about it, narrators aren’t supposed to be the ‘authors’ of the book they are narrating, but it certainly is interesting. It reminds me a little of I am the Messenger for this unusual narrative style where the author is actually involved in the story. But what is more interesting, is that our narrator, isn’t a fan of Gatsby (so I guess the title is really sarcasm), and he is the only man that our narrator doesn’t follow his father’s advice about, and doesn’t reserve judgement. And yet, the narrator is saying that Gatsby turned out alright in the end, very perplexing.

Our narrator is a Carraway, and his father owns a hardware store, but he left the town, went to fight in the Great War, and stayed East to learn about bonds, which his family weren’t too keen about. He felt lonely for about a day, since someone he was going to share housing with bailed, until he helped a newer arrival, and somehow that made everything better. I don’t think I’m going to like our narrator. He is living in ‘West Egg’ of New York, and at the mention of Long Island Sound, I am immediately reminded of Percy Jackson and Camp Half-blood, and I think strangely he is renting a cheap house, which is next to rather expensive houses. And one of those just happens to be the Gatsby mansion.

Over on the East Egg, was our narrator’s second cousin once removed, which means our narrator’s father, is second cousins with her (Daisy), which in term means they share great-grandparents (just in case you were wondering about the whole nomenclature of cousins, the ordinal number, i.e. first, means you share grandparents, second means you share great-grandparents, and so on. The -once removed, means you are one generation different, so your father’s first cousin, is your first cousin once removed.). Anyway, Daisy married Tom Buchanan, a wealthy man, who our narrator (still nameless) knew from college. Supercilious, now there’s a good word! And effeminate swank, I think we are in for a vocabulary treat here!

I really am not liking this Tom Buchanan, certainly too supercilious, like “I’ve got a good place here”, you don’t just randomly say that. I honestly think I could not have coped in the high-society of these times, with all their fake appearances and pathetic ideas about the world. Already it is frustrating me, reading the interactions in the book, the hyperboles, the pointless dialogue between these people. It’s not the book, it’s the era and class that’s grating.

Finally we get a name, Nick Carraway. I’m guessing we’ll be seeing more of Miss Baker, and she and Nick will get married. As for Daisy, she always looks out for the longest day of the year, and then misses it, it really is strange conversation. Then randomly, she cries that she hurt her hand, and it is bruised. And I can’t tell if she is joking when she says Tom did it, but it all seems random and weird. She just seems to get over it, and continue talking. The topic of conversation changes so rapidly, and now we start to see the racist sentiments of Tom, who is ‘violent’ about a book on ‘The Rise of Coloured Empires’. I guess that is what it was like in those days, the idea that white people were superior, and that ‘if they didn’t do something about coloured people, they’d be submerged (all based on science)’, which is absolute rubbish, though these thoughts really do still linger.

When Tom leaves to answer the phone (of course they have a butler!), Daisy decides to tell Nick a secret. It’s about the butler’s nose, and Nick goes along with it, and says “That’s why I came over tonight.” I know it’s jesting, but, I can’t imagine people saying these things. The ‘secret’ is that the butler hasn’t always been a butler, and once shone shoes, until the fumes got to his nose. Like that is scandalous, I guess butler’s were supposed to always have been butlers and have come from generations of other butlers.

Then Daisy says that she loves seeing Nick at her table, and that he reminds her of a rose. And now even Nick knows that that isn’t true, and she is only ‘extemporising’ which when I looked it up, doesn’t really seem to fit but I guess it could, she’s just filling the time:  “to utter something in an impromptu manner” is the definition. She then throws down her napkin and excuses herself. I really have no idea what’s going on! I think Mr and Ms Buchanan are about to have a ‘discussion’ and Ms Baker wants to get the gossip. And she doesn’t want Nick to distract her from hearing the conversation in case it has to do with Tom’s mistress!

Then the pair of them are back, acting as if nothing happened. When Tom says he wants to take her to the stables (or does he mean Nick) I was worried that he was planning to kill Daisy, doubt it, but who knows. It just gets weird, and Nick feels it too, and he even wants to call the police. Daisy and Nick have a little conversation about things, and it is clear that Tom isn’t a good husband, and Daisy doesn’t want to be sophisticated. And right now, all I’m thinking is, this is weird.

Honestly Tom, read your own damn paper yourself, don’t get people to read it out to you! Alright, maybe he can’t read, but I think it’s just the pretentiousness of him thinking he is ‘above’ reading his own paper. Jordan Baker decides its time to go to bed, since she has some tournament tomorrow. Then Daisy openly announces that she is going to get Nick and Jordan together, and arrange their marriage. That really isn’t the thing people should be doing, let them control their own lives, just cause you have nothing better to do.

Tom becomes serious and asks if Daisy gave a talk to Nick, and warns him to not believe everything he hears. What’s that supposed to mean? And then, oh the irony, they come out saying they heard he was engaged to someone out west. But Nick denies it (I think it’s true), saying he is too poor. But they insist, they heard it, from three people, so it must be true…. Apparently, Nick knows about the rumours, but they aren’t true, and they are part of the reason why he moved away from the East. I guess small towns are hard places to avoid rumours.

So Nick leaves and returns home only to find a suspicious Mr Gatsby up to something. What was the light? A signal? And why was he trembling? I like a good mystery, so I’m excited to continue!

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6 thoughts on “The Great Gatsby – Chapter 1

    1. Ah I’m so sorry, the two comments got caught up in the spam filter! I think it didn’t like the teacher-tube link. I’ve saved it from the filter now, so hopefully it learns from it’s mistake! So sorry, now it makes sense, and I actually do like the joke! I guess he shares some of my feeling about the book!

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