This chapter provides the final pieces of Gatsby’s makeup, and this is done by further flashbacks into critical periods of his past. The real history narrated by Nick is, of course, in contrast to the information Gatsby has himself provided. Gatsby was born James Gatz on a North Dakota farm and he briefly attended college in Minnesota but dropped out after a few weeks. He then worked on Lake Superior, fishing for salmon and clams, and this is where he came across the wealthy businessman Dan Cody. Gatsby had rowed out to warn Cody that there was a storm coming and he should take his yacht to safety. The grateful Cody took the young Gatz on board his yacht as a personal servant. This opened a new life for Gatz where he travelled to exotic locations such as the West Indies and the Barbary Coast. Gatsby fell in love with the opulent lifestyle and, in fact, inherited $25,000 when Cody died, but Cody’s mistress prevented Gatsby from claiming the money. Gatsby was determined to become wealthy himself and was driven to obtain a personal fortune.
Several weeks have now passed since Gatsby and Daisy were reunited and Nick has seen little of them since that fateful day. It is not surprising that Tom has become suspicious and takes the opportunity to go to Gatsby’s house while out riding with the Sloane’s. Gatsby invites them to stay for dinner, but they refuse. Etiquette required them to invite Gatsby to dine with them and to Tom’s dismay, he accepts. Gatsby clearly does not realize the insincerity of the invitation. Tom looks down on Gatsby because of his lack of sophistication and is highly critical of Daisy’s habit of visiting Gatsby on her own. Although suspicious, Tom has not yet discovered the secret love between the two.
Prices start at $12
Prices start at $11
Prices start at $10
The following Saturday night Tom and Daisy go to the Gatsby party and Tom is merely there to see if there is any infidelity between Gatsby and Daisy. Nick is also there but is far less impressed by the party this time around. Daisy also becomes upset when she learns from Tom that Gatsby’s fortune comes from criminal activities. When Tom and Daisy leave the party Gatsby looks for Nick to find out why Daisy is unhappy. Gatsby wants things to return to what they were in Louisville when they first met, but Nick reminds him that he cannot recreate the past, and here the first cracks in Gatsby’s dream appear.
The first part of the chapter tells us about the early life of Gatsby, and how Dan Cody was the source of Gatsby’s early education into the high life and the ultimate American dream. However, unlike Gatsby, Cody has no driving purpose for obtaining wealth. His life is almost aimless, drifting about in his yacht in exotic locations. Here again, is the theme that wealth without a worthy purpose is ultimately self-destructive. The events of the party show that Gatsby’s dream is disintegrating and unlike his previous parties, this one has a different feel to it because it is being evaluated according to Daisy’s morals and standards, and not those generally accepted in West Egg. Daisy is a stranger in this glitzy environment and is unhappy with every aspect of the party except when she is drawn to the scene between the movie director and his star. These two figures form a kind of theatrical set-piece amidst a sea of emotion.
There is a rising tension now surrounding Gatsby’s relationship with Daisy, and Gatsby encounters Tom’s increasing suspicion, which will soon flare up into a confrontation. It should be noted that Fitzgerald never gives us a single scene from Gatsby’s affair with Daisy. This is Nick’s story and he never witnessed their intimate relationship. Fitzgerald leaves this part of the affair to our imaginations. Instead, he is concerned with the menacing suspicion and mistrust, which will ultimately lead to their ruin.
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