The Great Gatsby – Chapter 3

Chapter Three

Well Mr Gatsby sure does live a life full of parties! I guess being wealthy leaves you with few choices of what to do with your time, sure you could volunteer your time and actually help the world, but what’s the point in that? I have to admit that the party does sound enjoyable, and living in luxury would have its perks, but there’s more to life than that. At least Mr Gatsby is nice enough to invite Nick along, even though half the guests don’t seem to have been invited. Jay Gatsby had finally wanted to meet Nick, and what better time and place than a party? But actually being at the party, and not knowing any of the people there, isn’t the most enjoyable thing to do, and apparently if you’re a single man, you can only be at the bar, otherwise you look alone and purposeless.

But Nick’s ordeal doesn’t last too long as he spots Ms Baker, and grabs the chance of having company with both hands. The two of them stay together and mingle with the others. Lucille and her friend mention that last time they were here, Lucille broke her dress, and Mr Gatsby bought her a new one, an expensive one at that. I have to agree that, that is an odd thing to do, but apparently Jay doesn’t want to have ‘any trouble with anybody’. Then starts the gossiping, and who knows how much is true. Has he killed a man? Was he a German spy in the war? One of the men there agrees, and says someone else grew up with Gatsby in Germany. But the other girl says that he was in the American army during the war. If he was in the war, then it’s probably true he killed someone, but that’s not so shocking. Whatever the truth is, all it does is add mystery and intrigue about this man, something I’m sure he likes.

You can certainly tell that times were different back then, since Jordan Baker has an escort! Cause young, single women couldn’t be trusted to go out alone, no not at all. Jordan decides there ‘is too much polite here’ (something I agree with) and they go off looking for Gatsby, who they haven’t seen. They go inside, into the library (oh I so want one of those in my house), and find a man in there who is excited that the shelves actually contain real books, and that they aren’t cardboard or something. And this man is another curious character, who says he’s been drunk for a week, and was brought here by a Mrs Claud Roosevelt. No surprise that our pair wanted to leave as soon as possible, now where is Gatsby, it’s his party so he has to be here!

The party continues in full swing, and yet still no sign of Gatsby. Nick is stopped by a man who says he is familiar, and it turns out they were in the same division in the war. And he invites Nick to go with him tomorrow morning as he tests his ‘hydroplane’ (which could be a regular boat, or seaplane, they didn’t distinguish between the two according to the notes my book contains). Unsurprisingly (I thought this was the case) the man turns out to be Gatsby, and Nick didn’t even realise, much to his embarrassment. Gatsby gives Nick a smile, that is described in some detail as a very rare smile that has a ‘quality of eternal reassurance’. Which is probably the gift of a good conman, I guess Nick’s narration has biased me against Gatsby.

Nick was most surprised that this was Gatsby, he was expecting a ‘florid, corpulent person in his middle years’, but Gatsby was a year over thirty, and was a ‘rough-neck’. As for who is actually is, that is again a mystery, he is said to be an Oxford man, but Jordan doesn’t believe it. Whoever he is, he has piqued Nick’s curiosity, where did Gatsby come from, to suddenly come from nowhere and buy an expensive house? Jordan says that she likes his large parties, they provide an intimacy that small parties don’t, which sounds paradoxical, but in a small party, you have no privacy to go unnoticed.

The piece of music played at the request of Gatsby, Vladimir Tostoff’s Jazz History of the World, is a fictitious piece of music, which saddens me a little, since I would have liked to hear it. Nick was still so interested in Gatsby, he could see nothing sinister about the man, but it was odd that no women were ‘swooning’ over him like they were over everyone else. Gatsby calls Jordan over to speak with her in private, through his butler of course.

Nick goes inside, and finds that most of the women there were having arguments with their ‘husbands’, which is a little odd, sure couples fight, but all of them, at the same party? What’s happening? They’re all probably just being too interested in the other female company. Oh, actually the guys just want to go home, and the women think that this is some personal attack, to stop them having a good time. I doubt that’s true, but the fact that the husbands just lift up their woman and take them out to the car, isn’t so acceptable. Jordan comes out, after an hour conversation with Gatsby, which was ‘most interesting’, but she has promised not to tell, she will eventually though. Why did Gatsby want to tell Jordan something?

Nick says his goodbye to Gatsby, and is reminded of his promise to go out in the hydroplane. Outside a different scene is playing out, a car has gone into a ditch, driven by the man from the library! If he had drunk so much, no wonder he had an accident! And then he says he knows nothing about driving, so why is he driving? Then it is revealed that another man was driving, and he seems just as clueless as the library man. He doesn’t even seem to realise the fact that the wheel has come off is an issue. Wow, driving must have been so dangerous back then, when people didn’t even understand cars, and there were no seatbelts and no airbags! At least Nick just has to walk nextdoor and he’s home.

And we then hear from our narrator directly, as he writes about reading over what he’s written, which is unusual. It’s good that he’s pointing out that he did actually work, and even had an affair (was all relationships out of marriage an affair?), so these parties weren’t his life. He grew to live New York,.and had a slightly weird habit of picturing himself following women and smiling at them. That’s creepy, yes he’s lonely, but that’s a little too much. It’s a tad sad hearing how lonely and isolated he feels, but I’m not too convinced about him.

In the end, as predicted, he started hanging out with Jordan, and ended up having a ‘tender curiosity’ for her. But Jordan is not the nice girl she seems to be, she lies and cheated on the golf tournament, and probably pressured her caddy to retract his statement. And Nick’s summation of her is very critical. And Jordan likes him, because he isn’t careless. It sounds like Nick does love Jordan, but first he does need to break something off for good back home.

His last statement is laughable, one if the few honest people he’s meet. Whenever someone is so vain in their self proclamation, you know they are nothing of the sort!

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