The Great Gatsby: Summary (Chapter 3)

Summary (Chapter 3)

Everyone is fascinated by a certain Mr. Gatsby, a mysterious Nick’s neighbor who lives in a luxurious mansion and regularly throws epic parties. One day, Nick receives an invitation to one of Gatsby’s parties. The Great Gatsby‘s party is the focus of this chapter.

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Welcome The Great Gatsby Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis page prepared by our editorial team!

📖 Summary

Jay Gatsby is known for the huge and lavish parties he throws every weekend in the summer. People gather at his mansion to drink champagne, chat, dance, and have fun. Gatsby offers everything they need for it. The guests are free to use his pool and boats. They are treated with dinner and entertained by the whole orchestra. People enjoy the festivities till the morning hours.

Finally, Nick receives an invitation. He takes a short walk to his first party, but it doesn’t make a good first impression. Nick feels uncomfortable around all the strangers. He “was one of the few guests who had actually been invited.” He is trying to find the party’s host, but no one can help, and it seems like no one even knows how Gatsby looks. Nick runs into Jordan Baker. Together they wander around the mansion, listening to the chitchats and passing by endless servings of alcohol.

“The lights grow brighter as the earth lurches away from the sun and now the orchestra is playing yellow cocktail music and the opera of voices pitches a key higher. Laughter is easier, minute by minute, spilled with prodigality, tipped out at a cheerful word.”

(The Great Gatsby, chapter 3)

The main discussion topic here is rumors about Gatsby. Nick and Jordan overhear someone speculating that he is a German spy and even killed a man. They are trying to find their mysterious host and end up in the library. There they meet a man who wears weird glasses, resembling the eyes of the owl, so Nick gives him a nickname “Owl-Eyes.” The man is quite drunk and, astonished by how real Gatsby’s book collection is, he handles Nick some of the books to check.

Later, after a few glasses of champagne, “bigger than finger bowls,” Nick and Jordan go outside. There, Nick starts talking to a handsome man, who he recognizes after it appears that they met during the war. Then the man smiled with “one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it”. He introduced himself as Jay Gatsby. Nick realizes that he doesn’t play the role of the host much. Jay stays aside, just watching over the guests.

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“…my eyes fell on Gatsby, standing alone on the marble steps and looking from one group to another with approving eyes… I could see nothing sinister about him. I wondered if the fact that he was not drinking helped to set him off from his guests, for it seemed to me that he grew more correct as the fraternal hilarity increased.”

(The Great Gatsby, chapter 3)

Jordan leaves to have a private talk with Gatsby, but after she only says it was “the most amazing thing” that she heard. Gatsby has to get a phone call from someone in Philadelphia, and Nick says goodbye to him. When he’s walking home, he notices a car accident. It is Owl-Eyes trying to get his car out of the ditch. However, after some struggles, he gives up and leaves his car there.

Nick finishes the chapter with a short description of his life so that people know it’s not only partying. He’s got a job in New York City and has a casual relationship. After dating a lady from New Jersey, he follows the advice of the Buchanans and starts seeing Jordan. However, he has mixed feelings for her. Nick doesn’t like her dishonesty and then leaves a remark that he’s “one of the few honest people” he knows.

🎭 Active Characters

Nick Carraway, Jordan Baker, Jay Gatsby, Owl-Eyes

🔥 Active Themes

Theme of social class in The Great Gatsby.Theme of money in The Great Gatsby.Theme of love and marriage in The Great Gatsby.Theme of gender in The Great Gatsby.
Social ClassMoneyLove & MarriageGender

🔬 The Great Gatsby: Analysis of Chapter 3

At the beginning of The Great Gatsby‘s Chapter 3 summary, the description of the extravagant party seems like the American Dream itself coming to real life. From the previous chapters, it should be clear that “new rich” and “old rich” are on bad terms. Here, however, East Egg aristocrats don’t mind coming to Gatsby’s West Egg ornate mansion. It may show that deep down, “old rich” don’t care about the bad manners of “new rich,” only trying to keep the vital drama going. So whenever it comes to coming to West Egg for a party, they seem blinded by an opportunity to enjoy free food, drinks, and entertainment. “Nouveau riche” most likely come to Gatsby’s weekend parties to make new social connections and become a part of the upper-class East Egg community. However, it seems like getting drunk there doesn’t help to keep their poor etiquette under control.

One of many party scenes in The Great Gatsby reveals the significance of the colors. Gatsby’s parties stand as a counterpart to the mundane life, especially to life in the Valley of Ashes. While the valley displays all shades of grey only, the party blooms with all kinds of flashy gold, white, and black. The setting stays in this tone throughout the whole novel. These are the colors of royalty, meaning that only people with money come to the West Egg parties. However, the royal colors may be a cover-up for their shallowness – one of the book’s main themes.

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Another underlying issue is the reasons why Gatsby throws the parties. When Nick noticed that the host is not interested in drinking and chatting with guests, he realized that he must have other motives. Jay Gatsby is introduced as a mysterious character with a vague past and unclear identity from the very beginning. Further on, Nick finds him different from other rich people. Though the money corrupts Gatsby, just like everybody, his goal is pure, but it’s hidden from the readers.

The party shown in The Great Gatsby‘s Ch.3 questions the existence of Prohibition back then. The amount of alcohol described there cannot be left unnoticed. So how come everyone is drinking so hard while it’s punishable by law? This issue should not be excluded from The Great Gatsby‘s analysis. Multiple quotes confirm that all main characters of the novel drink heavily. Whether it’s a drunken party at Tom’s apartment in New York or a huge festivity at Gatsby’s property, no one cares about the Prohibition. First of all, it’s a symbol of resistance in America as people want to have the freedom to do whatever they want. Secondly, drinking appears in the novel as a mark of privileged people as they have more power. It is one of the ways people break legal and moral laws in this book. The fact that everybody is drinking so openly at Jay Gatsby’s parties might be suggesting that he’s connected to the underworld. His character’s analysis conclusion is that he stays as mysterious as he was in the first chapters.

🎓 References

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IvyPanda. "Summary (Chapter 3)." September 4, 2021.


IvyPanda. 2021. "Summary (Chapter 3)." September 4, 2021.


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