The Great Gatsby, Chapters 4-6

Since most of his guests ignore him, why do they come to Gatsby’s house? Gatsby’s house is a popular place, providing free food, drinks, and lavish amusements
What is a “bootlegger,” and what does it have to do with the story? A bootlegger is a maker of illegal whiskey, especially during Prohibition, and it is rumored that is how Gatsby made his fortune
In the list of guests to Gatsby’s party, what further indication is there that old money is in East Egg and the nouveau riche reside in West Egg? Generally, the names of the people at the party from East Egg have fancier, more elitest names, while those from West Egg seem to have more ethnic names–also, the people from West Egg are identified as show business people or gamblers, a lower class
Why is Nick a little disappointed with Gatsby at the party? Gatsby has very little to say at the party, which is disappointing to Nick–hard to get interested in Gatsby
What are knickerbockers, and why are they mentioned? Knickerbockers are loose, short pants, gathered at the knee–a guest is wearing them at the party
Why does Nick have to restrain his laughter when Gatsby says he is “…trying to forget something very sad that had happened to me a long time ago”? Nick finds it a bit ridiculous that Gatsby uses that line and is trying to create an image in saying so–Gatsby seems to be trying to steal an image from a romance novel
What does Nick’s conversation with him reveal about Gatsby? As suggested in Chapter 1, Gatsby seems to have a romantic disposition and a tendency to rely on overused phrases like “Old boy”
Why does Nick say that listening to Gatsby is like “skimming hastily through a dozen magazines”? Nick’s conversation with Gatsby covers a number of topics, all too briefly–they seem a bit made up to him
How does Nick feel about Gatsby after going to the party in Chapter 4? Although Gatsby’s conversation seems a bit contrived, Nick for the moment believes him completely
Would you say that Gatsby’s wealth is “unfathomable”? Yes, Gatsby’s riches seem to be immeasurable, so one might describe them as “unfathomable”
What is it that changes Nick’s mind about the veracity of Gatsby’s stories? Gatsby has a medal from Montenegro for his service during the war and a picture of himself at Oxford
Who is Meyer Wolfsheim, and what do we know about him? Wolfsheim is an acquaintance of Gatsby’s and a gambler; he’s the man who “fixed” the 1919 World’s Series, according to Gatsby–not educated, but clever
Jordan Baker recalls a time in 1917 when she saw Daisy and Gatsby together–what indication is there that Daisy really liked Gatsby? While Gatsby is in town, Daisy seems to only want to go out with him; that winter, after Gatsby leaves, she tries to go to New York to see him–for almost a year, she rarely goes out, but suddenly marries Tom
How does Daisy behave the night before her wedding? Daisy gets drunk the night before her wedding, cries in the bathtub, and considers returning the pearls Tom gave her to break off the engagement
Based on Daisy’s reaction, whom do you think wrote her the letter she received on the night before her wedding, and what did it say? It seems like the letter Daisy gets the night before she’s married must have been sent by Gatsby, and it probably speaks of his love for her
What does Nick mean when he says, “Then it had not been merely the stars to which he has aspired on that June night”? Nick is probably referring to seeing Gatsby with his arms outstretched in the first chapter, and concludes that it was Daisy for which Gatsby was reaching, rather than the stars that he had at first supposed
What is happening to the relationship between Jordan and Nick as Chapter 4 comes to a close? Nick and Jordan are seeming to become very close
What does the word “gaudily” mean, and to whom might it refer in the novel? “Gaudily” means “flashily,” so it could refer to Gatsby showing off his many shirts to Daisy, or it could even mean the way many of his guests are dressed
Why does Nick turn down Gatsby’s business offer in exchange for providing a place for Gatsby to meet Daisy? Nick tells us that he might have accepted Gatsby’s business offer at another time, and the deal may have been somewhat shady, given Gatsby’s reputation–because it feels wrong to accept it in exchange for helping Gatsby meet his married cousin, however, he turns Gatsby down, thus preventing the chance that he would compromise himself or his values for the deal
What stages does Jay Gatsby go through as he waits to meet Daisy in Chapter 5? Though Gatsby starts out embarrassed and unreasonably joyful, he is consumed with wonder at Daisy’s presence, and was “running down like an overwound clock”
How does Daisy react to meeting Gatsby at Nick’s? Daisy’s throat seems to clutch upon seeing Gatsby again, overwhelmed by the moment–she breaks into tears and puts her face in his shirts, and seems to still be very fond of Gatsby
When Nick asks what kind of business he’s in, why is it inappropriate for Gatsby to answer, “That’s my affair”? Gatsby clearly has his mind elsewhere, and lets out his curt reply without thinking–since he maintains he comes from old money, it’s not really appropriate to answer Nick’s question in that way, especially since he has tried to use and/or befriend Nick
Why does Gatsby throw all of his shirts on the table? His shirts, like his cars, house, and his parties, represents his wealth–Gatsby throws the shirts on the table because he his proud of them
Daisy is very wealthy–why does she cry over the shirts? Daisy is very emotional already just seeing Gatsby again, but it seems like he’s gone to a lot of trouble to impress her, indicating his strong feeling and romantic nature
When the author uses the word “swathed” in Chapter 5, what is he describing, and what does it mean? Fitzgerald is describing the walls of Gatsby’s house being draped with rose and lavender silk
Nick talks about the three of them staring across the bay, and Nick wonders about Gatsby’s thoughts–what does he mean, “Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy”? Previous to today, when Gatsby finally meets Daisy, Nick seems to be saying that the light on Daisy’s dock seemed closer to her than Gatsby, though now Gatsby himself is closer than the light ever was
Nick also talks about how the “count of enchanted objects had diminished by one” in this scene–to what does he refer? The green light that had so enchanted Gatsby was no longer a special symbol for Jay Gatsby–he’s back together with Daisy, and needs no more symbols…for the moment
What does Nick mean at the end of Chapter 5 when he talks about how Daisy is no longer the girl of Gatsby’s dreams? Though it’s not because of anything she did, Daisy is now real for Gatsby, and could never live up to his dreams about what she was
What do we learn about Gatsby in the beginning of Chapter 6? Gatsby’s parents are farm people, and Gatsby leaves their home at the age of 16–his parents are described to Nick as unambitious and unexciting
When does James Gatz change his name, and why? Though he tells Nick he’d had the name of “Jay Gatsby” ready for a long time, he uses it for the first time when he rows out to Dan Cody’s yacht–he thinks the name sounds more glamourous
Nick talks about Gatsby inventing “just the sort of ‘Jay Gatsby’ that a seventeen year-old boy would be likely to invent”–what will the ideal James Gatsby be, do, and have? Nick says that Gatsby imagines himself as the wealthy, glamorous, suave, sophisticated man of the world, “a universe of ineffable gaudiness spun itself out in his brain…Each night he added to the pattern of his fancies”
What does Dan Cody’s yacht symbolize to young Gatz? Dan Cody’s yacht symbolizes all the beauty and glamour in the world
Why does Jay Gatsby not get the $25,000 left to him in Cody’s will? Ella Kaye somehow cheats Gatsby out of his inheritance from Dan Cody
Where did Gatsby receive his “singularly appropriate” education? In spending five years traveling the world in Dan Cody’s service, Gatsby received his education, developing fully his idea of the persona of Jay Gatsby
What does Nick mean when he says the “vague contour of Jay Gatsby had filled out to the substantiality of a man”? Though Gatsby was relatively unformed at 22, and a poor-but-dashing officer at 25, he is the wealthy and fully-realized Jay Gatsby at the age of 30
How do we account for Tom’s comment about being “old-fashioned” and “women run[ning] around too much these days to suit [him]”? Tom, though obviously believing strongly in a double-standard of behavior, is completely sincere when he says it, which makes one imagine he has limited intelligence and a high degree of arrogance
What does Daisy think of Gatsby’s party? Though Daisy loves the half-hour she spends with Gatsby at his party, she and Tom do not like the party, finding it typical of “West Egg” parties: too nouveau riche and people singing too loudly
While most could have predicted the reaction of the Buchanans to the gaudy party at Gatsby’s, Gatsby himself is puzzled at their reaction–why? Gatsby has money and some of the airs of old money, but he doesn’t have the same values as the Buchanans, and can’t imagine the snobberies of the Buchanans
What does Gatsby want to make Daisy understand? Gatsby clearly expects Daisy to know that he loves her, and that she should leave Tom so that he can Daisy can marry
Why is Gatsby’s opinion that the past can be repeated by “fix[ing] everything just the way it was before” unrealistic compared to Nick’s view? Nick is right when he says that we cannot repeat the past, and Gatsby’s view is foolish, since people and circumstances change drastically as time passes, and money can never restore things to the way they were
What are “conceits” and who in the novel has them? “Conceits,” or “fanciful ideas,” are something Gatsby seems to have, especially about the past and his romantic ideals

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