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This preview shows page 1 - 3 out of 92 pages.
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Chapter 1The first chapter of the book begins with the narrator, Nick Carraway, giving a brief introductionof himself. He is from a well-to-do, regionally-powerful family from somewhere in the Midwest.He graduated from Yale University in 1915 and is a veteran of World War I. After returning fromthe war, Nick, feeling out of touch with the world in his hometown, makes the consciousdecision to move east to New York and begin working as a bond trader.The house Nick rents is situated on a bay that empties into Long Island Sound and is located neara small hamlet called West Egg, named such for a rock formation on the end of the bay. Theeastern end of the bay is marked with a similar formation called East Egg. Excluding Nick's,most of the houses situated on the bay are large, extravagant mansions, especially those in EastEgg.Soon after his arrival, Nick is invited to a dinner in East Egg, where his cousin, Daisy, lives,having married into a very wealthy, old New England family. Her husband, Tom, was aclassmate of Nick's at Yale, a football player with a restless temperament.Over the course of the evening, Nick also meets Jordan Baker, Daisy's friend and a ratherinsolent female golfer. During dinner, Tom leaves the table to answer a phone call and Daisysoon leaves in a huff to retrieve him. In their absence, Jordan confides to Nick that Tom 'has awoman in the city;' that is, Tom is having an affair and the phone call that interrupted dinner islikely from her.After dinner, Nick finds himself alone with Daisy on the porch, where Daisy confides in him thatshe is unhappy in her marriage and has made some poor decisions in her life. The evening endssoon after and Nick leaves. Through his narration, he expresses his feelings of disgust for Daisy,Tom, and the way in which people in 'the East' generally conduct themselves.After returning home, Nick sees his neighbor, Gatsby standing outside, looking out over thewater. Jordan had mentioned Gatsby at dinner and Nick thinks to call out to him, intending to usethe mention as an icebreaker with his neighbor, but refrains. Still, Gatsby stares across the water,holding his arms outward toward a green light at the other end of the bay. When Nick nextglances over, Gatsby is gone, and the chapter ends.Themes in Chapter 1Though the first chapter is only our first introduction to the principal characters in the novel,several important themes are introduced. First, the fictional communities of East Egg and WestEgg mirror the upper echelons of American society in the 1920s. During that period, commonlyreferred to as the 'Roaring Twenties,' the booming U.S. stock market and the birth of consumerculture was making many people rich. These upstarts, often in western industrial centers likeChicago or Detroit, were looked down upon by the older moneyed families, many of which were
from New England. These attitudes of superiority manifest themselves later in the book,particularly in men like Tom (old money) toward men like Gatsby (new or self-made money).