The main purpose of this first chapter is to introduce the characters and setting of the book. Nick Carraway is the narrator He is a young man in his late twenties who grew up in the Midwest in a prominent, respected middle class family. He says he is a decent human being who was taught at an early age to reserve judgment, a trait which has made him a confidante to many people in his life. He graduated from New Haven (Yale) in 1915, and then served in the military in World War I.
The Buchanans lived in anenormous Georgian style mansion
The Story Begins…. Nick has been invited to dinner at the Buchanans. When he arrives at their home, he is amazed at its size and the expansive grounds that run from the house for a quarter of a mile down to the beach.
Tom Buchanan Thirty years old. Nick immediately notices that Tom has changed since his college days. He is blond, handsome, and muscular. He appears to be sturdy and arrogant. Nick comments that Tom has a "cruel body, capable of enormous leverage."
Daisy Buchanan Toms wife and Nicks cousin, appears to be light as a feather. She sits inside the living room on a sofa and is dressed in a lightweight, white garment that is rippling in the breeze, giving the young woman the image of floating. Her voice, light and thrilling to Nick, intensifies the cool, airy picture of her appearance. She is shallow and careless.
Jordan Baker Daisy’s friend. She is a professional golfer She is shallow and vain, much like Daisy
Dinner… Tom receives a phone call and leaves the table. Daisy leaves. Jordan Baker tells Nick that Tom has a mistress in the city.
After Dinner…. Daisy reveals "turbulent emotions" to Nick. She tells him that when she had her daughter two years ago, Tom was nowhere around. She is glad that the child is a daughter, for she feels she can raise her to be "a fool--thats the best thing a girl can be in the world, a beautiful little fool." She then admits her misery to Nick and says, "Ive had a very bad time, and Im pretty cynical about everything."
After Dinner Cont’d Nick and Daisy go inside to join Tom and Jordan. Tom warns Nick about Daisys complaints and says, "Dont believe everything you hear." Daisy teases Nick and Jordan about fixing them up together. The mention the rumor of Nick’s engagement, but he denies it, saying that she was just a friend.
The Evening Ends Jordan has a tournament in the morning and needs to rest. Nick decides to leave as well. As he drives home, he is confused and disgusted and doesn’t know what to think.
Nick stands outside to take in the view of the bay.Nick Sees Gatsby He notices that his neighbor is also outside, staring at the stars with hands in his pocket. Just as Nick prepares to greet him, the neighbor stretches out his arms to the dark water and appears to tremble. Nick looks out to the bay to see what attracts the neighbors attention, but he sees only a single green light, probably at the end of a dock in East Egg. When Nick looks back toward his neighbor, the man has vanished.
The Valley of Ashes• A desolate area of land between West Egg and New York City• In this industrial wasteland, through which the commuter train must pass, everything is covered with dust, smoke, and ashes.
Dr. T.J. Eckelberg• The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic - their irises are one yard high.• They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose.
George Wilson• Nick followed Tom over a low whitewashed railroad fence, and back a hundred yards along the road under Doctor Eckleburgs persistent stare.• The only building in sight was a small block of yellow brick sitting on the edge of the waste land• One of the three shops it contained was…• Repairs. GEORGE B. WILSON. Cars bought and sold.• A blond, spiritless man, anemic, and faintly handsome.
Myrtle Wilson• A thickish woman, in the middle thirties, and faintly stout, but carried her surplus flesh sensuously as some women can.• sensuous, with an air of vitality
Catherine• Myrtle’s sister• A slender, worldly girl of about thirty, with a solid, sticky bob of red hair, and a complexion powdered milky white.• When she moved about there was an incessant clicking as innumerable pottery bracelets jingled up and down upon her arms.
The McKees• Neighbors from downstairs• Mr. McKee was a pale, feminine man• He was a photographer• She was shrill, languid, handsome and horrible.• She loudly complained to everyone present about her husband George
Whiskey & Gossip• “They say Gatsby’s a nephew or a cousin of Kaiser Wilhelms. Thats where all his money comes from.”• “Neither of them can stand the person theyre married to.”Kaiser Wilhelm: the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, ruling both the German Empire and Prussia from June 1888 to November 1918.
More Whiskey & Gossip• Catherine leaned close to me and whispered in my ear: "Neither of them can stand the person theyre married to."• "When they do get married," continued Catherine, "theyre going West to live for a while until it blows over."• "She really ought to get away from him," resumed Catherine to me. "Theyve been living over that garage for eleven years. And toms the first sweetie she ever had."
The Party’s Over• Nick describes himself at the party as being "within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life."• The spell of the party, however, is broken around midnight when Tom and Myrtle argue loudly over her talking about Daisy.• Tom insists that she not even mention his wifes name.• When Myrtle taunts him by shouting, "Daisy! Daisy!...Ill say it whenever I want to," Tom answers by striking her face and breaking her nose.• Nicks sense of moral order is repulsed by the violence, and he leaves in an alcoholic stupor, finally catching the 4:00 a.m. train back to West Egg.
Gatsby’s Parties THERE was music from my neighbors house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.
On week-ends his Rolls- Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city between nine in the morning and long past midnight, while his station wagon scampered like a brisk yellow bug to meet all trains.
The Invitation “I had been actually invited.” Gatsby sent his chauffeur next door with a formal invitation to Nick to attend a “little party” on Saturday night.
During the party… Nick looks several times unsuccessfully for Gatsby in order to formally introduce himself He finally finds Jordan Baker. “Welcome or not, I found it necessary to attach myself to some one before I should begin to address cordial remarks to the passers-by.”
Who is Gatsby?“Somebody told me they thought he killed a man once.” “its more that he was a German spy during the war.” “it couldnt be that, because he was in the American army during the war.” “You look at him sometimes when he thinks nobodys looking at him. Ill bet he killed a man.”
“Owl Eyes”Nick visits the library and meets a middle-age man, who has been drinking for a week and who wears “enormous owl-eyed spectacles”The man is absolutely amazed that the titles in Gatsbys library are actually real books with real pages. “Absolutely real - have pages and everything.”
Nick Meets Gatsby "Your face is familiar," he said, politely. "Werent you in the Third Division during the war?“ “Why, yes. I was in the Ninth Machine-gun Battalion.” "I was in the Seventh Infantry…..I knew Id seen you somewhere before."
“This is an unusual party for me. I havent even seen the host. I live over there...” I waved my hand at the invisible hedge in the distance, “and this man Gatsby sent over his chauffeur with an invitation.” For a moment he looked at me as if he failed to understand. “Im Gatsby,” he said suddenly. “What!” I exclaimed. “Oh, I beg your pardon.” “I thought you knew, old sport. Im afraid Im not a very good host.”
Almost at the moment when Mr. Gatsby identified himself, a butler hurried toward him with the information that Chicago was calling him on the wire. He excused himself with a small bow that included each of us in turn. “If you want anything just ask for it, old sport," he urged me. "Excuse me. I will rejoin you later.”
Nick Asks Jordan“Who is he?” I demanded.“Do you know?”“Hes just a man named Gatsby.”“Where is he from, I mean? And what does he do?”“Now YOURE started on the subject,” she answered with a wan smile. “Well, he told me once he was an Oxford man.”A dim background started to take shape behind him, but at her next remark it faded away.“However, I dont believe it.”
Gatsbys butler was suddenly standing beside us. “Miss Baker?” he inquired. “I beg your pardon, but Mr. Gatsby would like to speak to you alone.” “With me?” she exclaimed in surprise. “Yes, madame.”
Nick is Alone Again Nick realizes it is nearly 2 a.m. He wanders around the party, listening to the conversations. “I looked around. Most of the remaining women were now having fights with men said to be their husbands.” After Jordan returns, Nick decides to thank Gatsby and go home.
Conclusion Nick closes the chapter with explanations about himself, to fill in his life between the parties. Most of his time is spent working and studying about investments. He says he is learning to like the “racy feel” of New York, but dreams of finding a romantic attachment.
He also reveals that he has dated Jordan Baker and developed a “tenderness” for her. He was shocked, however, to learn that she was “incurably dishonest” and terribly careless. At least Jordan admits that she "hates careless people. Thats why I like you." Despite their mutual interest in one another, the noble Nick puts the brakes on their relationship because he has still not settled his feelings for the girl at home. Nick ends the chapter by proudly stating he is the only honest person he knows.
THE PARTIES CONTINUE AND SO DOES THE GOSSIP… "Hesa bootlegger," said the young ladies, moving somewhere between his cocktails and his flowers. "One time he killed a man who had found out that he was nephew to Von Hindenburg and second Paul von Hindenburg cousin to the devil. 2nd President of Germany
PARTY GUESTS “Once I wrote down on the empty spaces of a time-table the names of those who came to Gatsbys house that summer. It is an old time-table now, disintegrating at its folds, and headed „This schedule in effect July 5th, 1922.‟ ”
NICK GETS TO KNOW GATSBY Nick begins to tell about the first time Gatsby comes to his home. He has arrived in his elegant automobile to take Nick into the city for lunch.During the drive,Gatsby asks Nick,“Whats your opinionof me anyhow?”
GATSBY IS…. He first says he is the son of a wealthy family from the “middle-west.” He then adds he was educated at Oxford,
GATSBY CONTINUES…. He inherited a great deal of money, and then “lived like a young raja in all the capitals of Europe... collecting jewels, hunting big game, painting a little... and trying to forget something very sad that had happened…..
He then tells about joining the war in hopes of getting killed, but instead he receives decorations for his bravery from every Allied government. Nicks first reaction is to laugh
PROOF Then his neighbor pulls out a war medal from Montenegro, and to Nicks astonishment, it almost looks real. * Montenegro is a country located in southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south, and borders Croatia on the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina on the northwest, Serbia on the northeast and Albania on the southeast
MORE PROOF “Heres another thing I always carry. A souvenir of Oxford days.” It was a photograph of half a dozen young men …. There was Gatsby, looking a little, not much, younger - with a cricket bat in his hand.
GATSBY NEEDS A FAVOR “Im going to make a big request of you to-day, so I thought you ought to know something about me. I didnt want you to think I was just some nobody.” Nick then learns that Gatsby will not make his request personally. Instead, he has asked Jordan Baker to discuss the matter with Nick at tea.
LUNCH In a well - fanned Forty-second Street cellar I met Gatsby for lunch Nick finds him seated with Meyer Wolfsheim, a man in his fifties who wears human molars as cuff links. During their meal, Wolfsheim broods about Rosy Rosenthals murder at the Metropole years before
“ROSY” ROSENTHALRosy Rosenthal (an actual gangster) waskilled in a hail of machinegun bullets as hestepped outside the dining room of the oldMetropol Hotel in 1913This same hotel is now knownas the Casablanca Hotel
Afterlunch, Gatsby tells Nick that Wolfsheim is the man who fixed the World Series in 1919.Nick, with his proper Midwestern upbringing, is shocked.
TEA WITH JORDAN Jordan begins telling Nick a story about Daisy when they were both young girls back in Louisville in 1917. Daisy, at age 18, was the richest and most popular girl in town. One spring day Jordan spied her sitting in her white roadster with a handsome lieutenant, whom Daisy introduced as Jay Gatsby.
DAISY LOSES GATSBY Soon, however, rumors circulated about Daisy trying to run away to say good-bye to a soldier who was going overseas, but her family stopped her…. Daisy seemed to brood for a few months, but by autumn she appeared as happy as ever…..
DAISY RISES AGAIN She had a debut after the Armistice In February she was presumably engaged to a man from New Orleans. In June she married Tom Buchanan of Chicago, with more pomp and circumstance than Louisville ever knew before.
TOM & DAISY WED He came down with a hundred people in four private cars Hired a whole floor of the Seelbach Hotel The day before the wedding he gave her a string of pearls valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
MARRIED LIFE Daisy married Tom Buchanan and soon began their lengthy travels. Almost immediately, Tom started to see other women Daisy„s misery began.
GATSBY’S REQUEST Jordan surprises Nick by telling him that “Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay.” “Then it had not been merely the stars to which he had aspired on that June night. He came alive to me, delivered suddenly from the womb of his purposeless splendor.”
“He wants to know if youll invite Daisy to your house some afternoon and then let him come over.”The modesty of the demand shook me. He had waited five years and bought a mansion….. so that he could “come over.” some afternoon to a strangers garden.
“Why didnt he ask you to arrange a meeting?”“He wants her to see his house,” she explained. “And your house is right next door.”“I dont want to do anything out of the way!” he kept saying. “I want to see her right next door.”
“And Daisy ought to have something in her life,” murmured Jordan to me.“Does she want to see Gatsby?”“Shes not to know about it. Gatsby doesnt want her to know. Youre just supposed to invite her to tea.”
CONCLUSION We passed a barrier of dark trees, and then the facade of Fifty-ninth Street, a block of delicate pale light, beamed down into the park…. I drew up the girl beside me, tightening my arms. Her wan, scornful mouth smiled, and so I drew her up again closer, this time to my face.