The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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The Great Gatsby | Discussion Questions 11 - 20


In Chapter 4 of The Great Gatsby, what's significant about the list Nick Carraway created while living next door to Gatsby with regard to the theme of superficiality versus truth?

In the opening of Chapter 4, Nick Carraway talks about a list he wrote the summer he was living in the East. His list includes the names of people from both East Egg and West Egg who attended Jay Gatsby's parties. As Nick himself notes, these people accepted "Gatsby's hospitality and paid him the subtle tribute of knowing nothing whatever about him." The fact that Nick took the time to put this list together—that he thought about who was regularly attending Gatsby's parties and stopped to consider who did or did not know Jay even as they accepted his hospitality—is suggestive of Nick's ongoing struggle with the superficiality of many of the people around him. In addition to objecting to some people's bad behavior, Nick seems to be making a stand for his own values, including honesty, and the quality that they can add to one's life. On some level, even if he has not verbalized it to himself yet, he knows that good and lasting relationships can exist only when there is honesty—and that may be what he is beginning to crave.

What does Nick Carraway realize may be the reason Jay Gatsby invites Meyer Wolfsheim to lunch in Chapter 5 of The Great Gatsby?

To Nick's dismay, he discovers that Gatsby may be more like the others—the Tom and Daisy Buchanans of the world—than not. When Gatsby invites both Nick and Wolfsheim to lunch, it is supposed to be just a friendly gathering. Only later, when Nick has agreed to set up the meeting for Gatsby and Daisy at his house, does Wolfsheim come up again—along with the possibility of a business connection for Nick. It is then that Nick sadly realizes that the lunch with Wolfsheim was Gatsby's way of returning a favor out of obligation. Nick questions whether he has more invested in the relationship with Gatsby than Gatsby does, and, certainly, it must be the point at which he begins to question the depth of any relationship he has formed in the East.

What story does Jordan Baker tell Nick Carraway in Chapter 4 of The Great Gatsby, and how does it relate to a favor she asks on Gatsby's behalf?

During their date over tea, Jordan tells Nick how, at 18, Daisy met and fell in love with a young soldier whom her family refused to let her marry. She relates that Daisy later became engaged to Tom Buchanan—a man whose family and wealth Daisy's family approved of—and that other than for Tom's dalliances, they have seemed to be a happy, youthful, wealthy couple. Jordan relates that only when Nick came East and settled in West Egg did the name Gatsby reach Daisy's ears, and only then did Jordan connect the young soldier whom Daisy loved with the wealthy Jay Gatsby. Gatsby, however, had long known of Daisy's whereabouts; his request—through Jordan—is that Nick invite both him and Daisy to tea.

In Chapter 5 of The Great Gatsby, what is the significance—from Jay Gatsby's perspective—of Daisy Buchanan and Gatsby meeting for tea at Nick Carraway's house?

By the fact that Gatsby can recite to Daisy and Nick that it has been "five years next November" since he and Daisy last met, readers are acutely aware of how important this meeting is to him. By this time in the novel, readers begin to understand some of Gatsby's motivation, even as they—and Nick—attempt to weed out the lies from the truth in regard to his past, his wealth, and most everything about his life. It becomes ever clearer that Daisy is the pivotal point in Gatsby's version of the American dream; everything he has done—the wealth, the persona, even the move to his particular house in West Egg—has all been done in the hope of securing Daisy's love once and for all. From his perspective, the moment he steps into the living room with Daisy is the first step to making his dream a reality.

In Chapter 5 of The Great Gatsby, what is the significance of Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby being alone and "possessed by intense life"?

In the close of this chapter, Gatsby and Daisy are together again, even if only for the moment. They are focused only on themselves—their being together—almost as if no time had passed since they sat together five years earlier when he was a young soldier with little more than his uniform and the promise of his future to offer her. In light of the detached way these characters normally engage with their own lives and the shallowness with which they typically interact with those around them, this image and Nick's description of them as "possessed by intense life," could signify that this is the most authentic moment that either of them has had in a very long time—or will have again. This scene strengthens the novel's theme of superficiality versus truth.

In Chapter 5 of The Great Gatsby, how does Fitzgerald hint that Gatsby's dream of permanently reuniting with Daisy is not proceeding as smoothly as he would like to believe?

As giddy and love-struck as Fitzgerald paints Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan's reunion to be, the text offers a number of points that are both revealing and prophetic of another view. He uses Nick Carraway as a particularly observant narrator. "Amid the welcome confusion of cups and cakes a certain physical decency established itself," Nick notes, and goes on, "Gatsby ... looked conscientiously from one to the other of us with tense, unhappy eyes." Moments with brief glances, unsaid words, and hesitant movements are found throughout this chapter, and though they might be attributed to the general awkwardness of the moment, the overriding thought is that these moments are indeed like cracks in the veneer of Gatsby's dream, warning them—and readers—of what is to come. Nick says that Gatsby appears confused, as if perhaps "a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness."

In Chapter 6 of The Great Gatsby, how does the juxtaposition of two facets of Jay Gatsby—the truth of the past and the facade of the present—advance the plot?

In Chapter 6 readers at last begin to see the real Jay Gatsby. After a detailed account of how James Gatz of North Dakota became Jay Gatsby of West Egg, New York, the chapter ends with two important scenes: the first capturing Tom's first appearance at a Gatsby gathering, and the second capturing Tom and Daisy attending a party together one Saturday evening. The juxtaposition of Gatsby's past and present moves the plot in that the reader is given information about Gatsby's past that makes the present—and his facade—more understandable. At the same time, insight into the two facets of Gatsby increases the tension between them, and the reader has the sense that as the tension grows, a collision between Tom and Gatsby, as well as between the two facets of Gatsby's life, is inevitable.

In Chapter 6 of The Great Gatsby, how does Tom Buchanan's tirade about Jay Gatsby knowing Daisy Buchanan reflect Tom's self-absorption?

Throughout the book Tom Buchanan proves to be loud, arrogant, and self-absorbed. When Tom and Gatsby engage in a game of one-upmanship in Chapter 6, tensions rise to the point that Gatsby's comment to Tom that he knows Daisy spirals Buchanan out of control. "I wonder where in the devil he met Daisy," Tom says. "I may be old-fashioned in my ideas, but women run around too much these days." This comment in particular shows the absurdity and depth of Tom's self-absorption and the double standards by which he lives.

In Chapter 6 of The Great Gatsby, how does it forward the plot when Daisy Buchanan attends Jay Gatsby's party?

When Daisy and Tom Buchanan show up at one of Jay Gatsby's parties, Gatsby believes that he has made progress toward his goal of earning Daisy's love, which has been represented by the green light across the water for so long. Daisy's attendance at the party emboldens the two of them, and they begin to take more chances with their relationship, including slipping away from the party together. The mounting tension and the headstrong behavior exhibited by Daisy, Gatsby, and even Tom, will eventually bring the action to a head.

In Chapter 7 of The Great Gatsby, how does the interaction between the Buchanans' daughter Pammy and her parents reflect what readers already know about Daisy and Tom?

Tom and Daisy interact with their daughter Pammy in a way that mirrors the way they carry themselves through most of their lives: in a very detached and distant manner that shows little personal investment. This is the only time the little girl is seen in the book, and Daisy has her paraded out more like an expensive pet than as a little girl. She is then returned to the people who actually are raising the child—in this case, the nurse.

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