Chapter I Summary
The narrator of The Great Gatsby is a young man from Minnesota named Nick Carraway. He not only narrates the story but
casts himself as the book’s author. He begins by commenting on himself, stating that he learned from his father to reserve
judgment about other people, because if he holds them up to his own moral standards, he will misunderstand them. He
characterizes himself as both highly moral and highly tolerant. He briefly mentions the hero of his story, Gatsby, saying that
Gatsby represented everything he scorns, but that he exempts Gatsby completely from his usual judgments. Gatsby’s
personality was nothing short of “gorgeous.”
In the summer of 1922, Nick writes, he had just arrived in New York, where he moved to work in the bond business, and
rented a house on a part of Long Island called West Egg. Unlike the conservative, aristocratic East Egg, West Egg is home to
the “new rich,” those who, having made their fortunes recently, have neither the social connections nor the refinement to
move among the East Egg set. West Egg is characterized by lavish displays of wealth and garish poor taste. Nick’s
comparatively modest West Egg house is next door to Gatsby’s mansion, a sprawling Gothic monstrosity.
Nick is unlike his West Egg neighbors; whereas they lack social connections and aristocratic pedigrees, Nick graduated from
Yale and has many connections on East Egg. One night, he drives out to East Egg to have dinner with his cousin Daisy and
her husband, Tom Buchanan, a former member of Nick’s social club at Yale. Tom, a powerful figure dressed in riding clothes,
greets Nick on the porch. Inside, Daisy lounges on a couch with her friend -Jordan Baker, a competitive golfer who yawns as
though bored by her surroundings.
Tom tries to interest the others in a book called The Rise of the Colored Empires by a man named Goddard. The book
espouses racist, white-supremacist attitudes that Tom seems to find convincing. Daisy teases Tom about the book but is
interrupted when Tom leaves the room to take a phone call. Daisy follows him hurriedly, and Jordan tells Nick that the call is
from Tom’s lover in New York.
After an awkward dinner, the party breaks up. Jordan wants to go to bed because she has a golf tournament the next day. As
Nick leaves, Tom and Daisy hint that they would like for him to take a romantic interest in Jordan.
When Nick arrives home, he sees Gatsby for the first time, a handsome young man standing on the lawn with his arms
reaching out toward the dark water. Nick looks out at the water, but all he can see is a distant green light that might mark
the end of a dock.
Chapter I Analysis
Nick Carraway’s perceptions and attitudes regarding the events and characters of the novel are central to The Great Gatsby.
Writing the novel is Nick’s way of grappling with the meaning of a story in which he played a part. The first pages of Chapter