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Hector Malot

Chapter 4

Nick makes a list of the people who have been to at least one of Gatsby's parties over the summer, and realizes that it is a list of the most powerful and wealthy people in the area. Then he talks about a trip that he and Gatsby took into New York City in order to eat lunch. They drove into the city and Gatsby told Nick all about his past, but Nick did not think that his story was logical or made since. For example, Gatsby said "San Francisco" when Nick asked him where he was from, even though he had just said he came from the Midwest. He also lists all kinds of accomplishments he has been involved with, including an Oxford education, collecting jewels in all of Europe's capitals, and getting medals in WWI in several European countries. He also talks of hunting big game. He can see that Nick is skeptical, so he produces a picture of himself at Oxford, along with a medal from Montenegro. As he is speeding through the Valley of Ashes, he is pulled over by the police. He shows them a white card, and officer lets him go with an apology for bothering him.

Nick is taken to lunch and introduced to Meyer Wolfsheim. Gatsby claims that Meyer fixed the 1919 World Series. He is a shady man with a lot of connections to "underground" and unsavory businesses. Nick begins to wonder if Gatsby created his wealth in ways that were not particularly legal, and what kinds of ties Gatsby might have to the kinds of activities Meyer is involve with. There is no proof, but it does get Nick to thinking about how little he really knows about Gatsby, and whether Gatsby may not be who he claims to be. Later, Nick sees Jordan. She tells him all about the conversation she had with Gatsby during the party they attended. Gatsby, Jordan says, is in love with Daisy, and they were to be married before Gatsby had to leave for the war. She promised to wait for him, but married Tom Buchanan instead. Before her wedding, she tried to drink away the pain. Still, she went through with the marriage and has remained faithful to Tom.

Of course, that has not stopped her husband from being unfaithful and flaunting it around New York City. The only reason that Gatsby purchased his West Egg mansion was to be close to Daisy. Nick thinks back to the night when he saw Gatsby with his arms stretched out toward the green light across the water. He realizes that the light must have been the one on the end of the dock where Daisy lives. Jordan tells Nick that Gatsby wants her to convince him to arrange a reunion between the two. Gatsby is very concerned that Daisy will not want to see him, or that she might refuse the invitation, so Nick is to invite Daisy to have tea at his house. Without her knowledge, Gatsby is going to also arrive at Nick's house for tea. That way, Daisy will not know that Gatsby will be there. She will be forced to see him, and that will allow them to confront their feelings for one another. It is possible that Daisy will reject him, but it will also give them the opportunity to consider whether there is still something between them that should be rekindled even now.

The first impression of Gatsby relates to how much hope he has for the future. Nick sees that in him, but he is not sure where it comes from or what he is so hopeful about. This chapter, though, basically addresses Gatsby's past, and clears up some of the questions that the reader (and Nick) had about where Gatsby came from. Even though what he tells Nick appears to be phony, he does produce what looks like proof that at least some of his tales are true. Eventually, Nick accepts at least part of the story as truth, but he also realizes how odd Gatsby is and what a character he is playing in his own life. He is a good actor, and it becomes very difficult for Nick to determine which parts of Gatsby's story are legitimate and which are the product of his own imagination. Nick's impression of Gatsby's lunch companion is unpleasant, and that starts to make him wonder about how Gatsby actually obtained the great wealth that he uses to throw parties every Saturday night for people he does not even know.

As Nick thinks more about the issue, he comes to the conclusion that Gatsby must have been involving in bootlegging and organized crime. Whether he is still involved in those things is not known. Remembering the setting of the novel is very important, because the 1920s were a wild and tumultuous time, when organized crime was actually popular and there were many bootleggers around. Additionally, the physical location of the novel is important, because it is very symbolic for what was taking place in the story. There was much pleasure-seeking going on during that time, and Fitzgerald made sure that came across in his work. There was also a ballooning of the stock market, which was helping to make even "average" people much more wealthy than they were in the past. Gatsby throws parties that are far beyond what others offer, and he seems to have more money than just about anyone else in the novel. However, the idea that his money comes from illegal activities only seems to help symbolize him as a large part of what America was during that time.

Despite the nefarious activities in Gatsby's past, the way Jordan talks about him shows that he is lovesick and innocent. He only wants to win back the woman that he loves and dreams about, and that he has never stopped caring for. Gatsby is becoming a character in the novel to which the readers (and Nick) can relate, but Nick is also conflicted. He admires Gatsby, but at the same time he is completely repulsed by the man. Seeing Gatsby as a young soldier who is lovesick but full of authenticity and hope is an attractive picture, but viewing him as a crooked businessman who played off of others for his own moral corruption and greed ruins the illusion. It is difficult for Nick to see him as both, and which image of him will "win" remains to be seen in later chapters. In addition to showing what Gatsby was like in the past and how he arrived at where he is in the novel, the chapter also sheds light on the object of his desire and hope – that green light he is reaching for.

The hopefulness Gatsby carries with him comes from his love for Daisy. The green light on the end of her dock loses its mystery and becomes a symbol of his love and longing. There are many ways to interpret that green light, but it is clearly an important symbol in the novel. Critics have suggested that it represents not only Gatsby's love for Daisy but also the whole of the entire American dream. The longing to achieve that dream and the way that dream is connected to material success and wealth is significant, as is the optimism that Gatsby holds onto as he works to achieve his dream. He has created a new identity for himself and a place that reflects what he needs in order to make his dream a reality. The pioneers of America did that in the past, although they were not as focused on a materialistic lifestyle as Gatsby was. They were, however, focused on the dreams that they had and how to make those a reality. The portrayal of Gatsby throughout the novel is the way in which Fitzgerald could clearly indicate the materialism that dominated American life in the 1920s.

Chapter 5

Later that night, Nick has a date with Jordan and then comes home from the city. Gatsby's mansion is brightly lit, but it does not look like anyone is there. Everything is silent. Nick walks home, and Gatsby startles him by coming across the lawn. He wants to make Nick happy, so he starts offering him all kinds of things. He tells him he can swim in the pool, and invites him to Coney Island. He appears as though he is desperate to please Nick, and seems to be agitated and upset. Nick realizes that Gatsby is doing all of those things because he wants Nick to agree to the plan of inviting Daisy over for tea. Nick tells him he will help, and Gatsby says he will have someone come and cut Nick's grass for him. He also offers Nick the chance to get involved in a little side business he does, and he assures Nick that Meyer is not involved. Nick is somewhat offended that Gatsby feels the need to pay him for arranging a meeting, but he does not change his mind. He still calls Daisy to invite her to come over to his house and have tea with him.

The day of the meeting, it rains. Gatsby is ridiculously nervous, but he still has someone go cut Nick's grass. He also sends flowers to the house. He is worried that Daisy will accept his advances but that things will not be the same between them, like they were years ago in Louisville. When Daisy shows up and Nick brings her into the house, Gatsby is not there. He knocks on the door and then comes in. He had walked all the way around the house in the rain in an effort to calm his nerves. The reunion is exceedingly awkward. Gatsby accidently knocks over a clock, and he tells Nick that the entire meeting was a mistake. Instead of giving up, Nick leaves the two of them alone for 30 minutes. When he returns, the awkwardness seems to have vanished, and both Gatsby and Daisy appear to be radiantly happy. Daisy is crying with joy, and the three of them go over to Gatsby's house where he shows them all of his material possessions, overwhelming Daisy.

She begins to cry again, over a collection of fine, English shirts. Gatsby tells her about the time he has spent, watching the green light on the end of her dock and dreaming of a future where they were happy together. While Gatsby is so enamored with Daisy, Nick is left wondering how she can ever live up to the vision that Gatsby has created of her. She has been so idealized by him, but he is not that person in real life. While she is beautiful and charming, it is likely that she will not live up to Gatsby's ideal for very long. For the time being, though, they seem very happy together. Gatsby has Klipspringer come in and play the piano for them, and Nick realizes that they are so caught up in one another that they do not realize he is there. Quietly, he leaves the mansion so Daisy and Gatsby can be alone. This is the pivotal chapter of the novel, and the reunion with Daisy is critical to the rest of the plot and what will take place in future chapters.

Before they were reunited, Gatsby is always trying to move toward a dream of their relationship, but that relationship does not actually exist. Once they rekindle their romance, the plot shifts to their actual relationship and the tensions that they face. This also allows Fitzgerald to more carefully explore the American dream and its excess from the standpoint of love. It becomes clear that Gatsby is having some trouble with how time passes, and his emotions do not always sync up with where he is in actuality. He is nervous about how Daisy will react to him, and when he knocks over the clock at Nick's house it is a symbol of his desire to go back to the past, instead of working within the parameters of the current time period. He is not able to retrieve the past, of course, but the reader does catch a glimpse of how he used to be when he is seen with Daisy. He appears genuine for the first time.

Because he is so in love with Daisy, the educated, wealthy veneer is mostly stripped away. Instead, the reader sees the awkward young man he only wants the love and approval of the young woman. Even Daisy appears more sincere, and is deeply moved by the success that Gatsby has attained. Nick claims to be very honest, and he is also highly tolerant of others. He does not seem to have a problem with the relationship between Tom and Myrtle, and he also does not take issue with Daisy entering into a relationship with Gatsby. Still, he talks of his disgust for the moral decay he sees in New York among those who are wealthy. He sees the love that Daisy and Gatsby have for one another, and it is a love that does not appear to exist between Daisy and Tom. There is a conflict between what Nick feels about society and the way he feels about his friends and family that is clearly evidenced within this chapter. However, Fitzgerald works to show that most "moral" people are conflicted, and that the area in which a person lives and the people with which he or she associates can change how that person feels and what is acceptable to that person.

Several times throughout the chapter, Fitzgerald makes comparisons between Gatsby's house and that of a feudal lord. His antiques, luxuries, and find, imported clothing all make him appear as though he would prefer to be an aristocrat in Britain rather than an American. Even the accent he affects seems to indicate that. Daisy and Nick are dazzled by everything that Gatsby owns, but Nick does suggest in his thought processes and narration of the story that there is something slightly amiss about taking such an aristocratic lifestyle and putting it right into the middle of democracy in America. When the original person who lived in Gatsby's mansion first had it built, he wanted to pay the people around him to thatch their roofs. That way, they would complement the styling of the mansion. However, they refused because they were not interested in playing peasants to the wealthy man who lived in the mansion. Their freedom was more important to them than that.

America was designed to be free of caste systems and class systems. People should be allowed to come from humble beginnings and find ways in which they could improve themselves and social and economic levels. To thatch their roofs like peasants and live in the shadow of an aristocratic, gothic mansion would completely undermine that feeling of freedom that the Founding Fathers desired to convey. This chapter is suggestive of the fact that dreams of a better life and self-improvement, when carried out properly, result only in something that – on the surface – still imitates the social system that was seen in Europe. Those who came to America were thought to want something other than that type of system, but they recreate it in their own ways, after all.

Chapter 6

Gatsby is the subject of many rumors in New York. He even has a reporter coming to his house in hopes of getting an interview with him. Because Nick has learned the actual truth about Gatsby some time before telling the story, he interrupts the tale in order to address Gatsby's history – not the rumors and speculation, but where he really came from and what really happened to bring him to where he currently is in life. He was born James Gatz, on a farm in North Dakota. He went to St. Olaf's college in Minnesota, but he dropped out after only two weeks of attendance. He was paying his tuition through working as a janitor, and he found the work to be too humiliating to continue. The following summer he found work on Lake Superior. He dug for clams and fished for salmon. When he saw Dan Cody – a wealthy man in the copper industry – on his yacht, he rowed out and warned him that there was a storm approaching. Cody was so grateful that he made Gatz – who told him his name was Jay Gatsby – his new personal assistant.

During his time on Cody's yacht, Gatsby fell in love with the idea of luxury and riches. He traveled to places like the West Indies and the Barbary Coast. Cody drank to excess quite often, and he required Gatsby to take care of him during those times. Because of what he saw from Cody during those times, Gatsby decided that he would not be a drinker himself. It kept him from getting involved in alcohol. Cody left Gatsby $25,000 when he died, but Cody's mistress found a way to prevent Gatsby from getting the money. Naturally, that was upsetting – but it led Gatsby to dedicate his life to becoming successful and rich. He believed that wealth was what he needed to make himself happy. Eventually, however, that desire for wealth would come about for another reason.

For several weeks after Daisy and Gatsby reunited, Nick did not see them. One afternoon, he stops by Gatsby's house and sees Tom Buchanan. Tom has come by Gatsby's house to have a drink with Mr. & Mrs. Sloane, because they have been out riding together. Gatsby seems to be upset and nervous. He tells Tom that he knows Daisy, which may not be a good move for him when it comes to divulging information. Gatsby also offers to have the Sloanes and Tom stay for dinner, but they decline. Out of politeness, they also invite Gatsby to have dinner with them. He does not realize that the invitation is not sincere, so he accepts it. Gatsby lacks social graces, and Tom does not like that. He also does not like it when Daisy goes to Gatsby's house and visits him alone. While he has his suspicions, he has not discovered anything that would convince him that Daisy and Gatsby are having an affair. The next Saturday, Daisy and Tom both attend the party at Gatsby's home. Tom is not interested in being there, but he wants to keep an eye on his wife because he does not like or trust Gatsby.

Nick is also not enjoying the party. He finds it very oppressive and sees that even Daisy is not having any fun. Tom tells her that Gatsby made his fortune as a bootlegger, but she disagrees and tells him that it came from him owning a chain of drugstores. Daisy and Tom leave the party, and Gatsby finds Nick. Gatsby is not happy, because he knows that Daisy did not enjoy herself. He wants everything to be like it was when he and Daisy were together in Louisville in the past, but Nick tries to tell him that the past is not something that he can get back. Gatsby insists that he can get the past back, because he can do anything with the money he has. He can make things just like they were, and then Daisy will leave Tom and be with him, like she should have been all along. Nick looks at all the debris left behind by the partygoers, and he thinks about the moment when Daisy and Gatsby first kissed – that moment when the dream of having Daisy became something all-consuming.

Gatsby has Daisy now, though, so the "dream," in that sense, has ended for him. Will reality become just as good? That is something that remains to be seen. In this chapter, the topic of social class is explored much more thoroughly, especially as it relates to Gatsby. As Nick talks about the early life and the trials which Gatsby faced, it is much easier to see how sensitive Gatsby is about status, and how much effect that has had on the majority of his life. He was so humiliated in college, working as a janitor, because he felt that was completely beneath him. He wanted more. The janitorial job contrasted very sharply when what he experiences when he works with Dan Cody. Cody has everything that Gatsby wants out of life. It does, however, make him even more aware that he lives in poverty, and that makes him nearly obsessed with gaining wealth and social status. When Gatsby "reinvents" himself by changing his name, it is a symbol of letting go of his impoverished past and focusing on the status and wealth he wants in the future.

It makes sense that Daisy is found to be so alluring and beautiful by someone like Gatsby. She is everything that he wanted to achieve when he became Jay Gatsby and left James Gatz behind. He is "great" because he has so much power to make his dreams into reality. The dream that has been realized most thoroughly, though, is the dream of who he actually is; his sense of self. The perception Gatsby has of Daisy is a dream, as well, because she is really not the same as he sees her. He still sees her as the girl he knew in Louisville. What he does not see is that she is part of the East Egg crowd, and she would never consider deserting her own social class, status, and background in order to marry him. She is not going to leave Tom for him or anyone else, because the wealth and power she has attained are too attractive to her to give up. While she may deeply care for Gatsby, or even actually love him in her own way, her loyalty does not belong to him.

The affair between Daisy and Gatsby is never put on display for the reader. Nick does not discuss it, and there are several reasons why this might be the case. He seems to like Gatsby, and he may want to avoid making him look bad or taking something away from the beauty of the love he has for Daisy. The suspicion Tom has, though, is clear and will lead to an eventual confrontation between the two men. As Fitzgerald delves deeper into the plot of his novel, he explores social class by showing how Tom, as well as the Sloanes, see Gatsby. They have a high degree of contempt for him, even though they are all wealthy, because he has "new" money and has not attained the social class and sophistication of those who have "old" money. Not all wealthy people are viewed in the same way, and there are social distinctions that still have to be observed. Gatsby is completely oblivious to this difference between him and the East Eggers, and he misses out on many of the nuances and subtleties that are actually thinly veiled comments of disgust and contempt.

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