Nick describes the elaborate, extensive preparations made for the parties held seemingly every weekend at Gatsby's house - they are unbelievably luxurious. Guests marvel over his Rolls-Royce, his swimming pool, his beach, the crates of fruit to be squeezed into juice, full orchestras, tents, caterers, and large amounts of alcohol. Nick received a personal invitation from Gatsby. Jordan Baker is also a guest, casually bored and, like Nick, looking for Gatsby in the midst of hearing rumors and stories about who he is and what he does. Some guests say he was a German spy, others say he once killed a man or that he is related to Kaiser Wilhelm. At one point, while Nick and Jordan are searching the house, they encounter a drunken guest, whom Nick calls Owl Eyes, amazed that the books in the library are all real.
Later, Nick and Jordan are sitting at a table with a noisy girl and a quiet man who, after recognizing Nick as someone who also served in the First World War in Europe, admits that he's Gatsby. This takes Nick by surprise, as Gatsby is in his early thirties and good looking - Nick had expected someone older and fat. Later, after he has been called away to the telephone and after the orchestra has started a jazzy new piece of music, Nick notices that while most of the guests are involved in relationships of some sort with the opposite sex, Gatsby stands alone. Later still, after Jordan returns from a private conversation with Gatsby, she tells Nick that Gatsby has told her some amazing things, but that she promised to keep them secret.
As the party winds down, Gatsby says goodbye to Nick, but is again interrupted by a telephone call. Nick starts for home, but becomes distracted by an automobile accident involving the man from the library and another man, too drunk to realize that one of the wheels has come off his car. As Nick nears home, he looks back at Gatsby's house, and is surprised to again see Gatsby all alone.
At this point, Nick's narration shifts focus, suggesting that while it may seem that his life was focused on parties, during the period he is describing he was also working - in New York, as a broker in a stock firm called the Probity Trust. He describes his daily activities, which include eating out regularly, studying the theory of the brokerage business, watching other people, and spending time with Jordan Baker. He writes of remembering the story about her he had vaguely recalled when they first met, the rumor that she had been guilty of cheating in a golf tournament. This leads him to the comment that Jordan was fundamentally dishonest, a necessary tactic for her to protect herself. This, in turn, leads him to recollect an occasion when she describes herself as careless, as hating careless people, and as liking Nick for being both careful and honest. Nick, in turn, comments that for a brief time he was in love with her, but he realized he had to clear himself from that feeling as soon as he could.
Themes and Character Analysis
Parties - Description and symbolism
- Carefree fun
- Superficial enjoyment
- Nobody knows him really
- There are a lot of rumors about his character
- Purpose of these parties ?
- To impress and attract Daisy
- His solitude, loneliness : he doesn't mix with his guests, stands apart
- He doesn't identify with these people, the readers wonder about his true character and motives
- His extraordinary smile, like he really understands you (not superficial like the other guests at the party)
Owl Eyes - Drunken guest in the library
- It foreshadows his appearance in the novel's final chapters : one of the only people attending Gatsby's funeral
- Car accident :
- Foreshadows the fatal car accident in which Myrtle gets killed and which leads to Gatsby's death
- Destruction, death caused by irresponsible, careless behavior as shown at the parties