Gatsby is looking for friendship with Nick. He talks to Jordan, Daisy’s friend and Nick’s companion, alone. He tells her that he and Daisy were in love with each other some time ago and asks Nick to help them get together again.
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Welcome The Great Gatsby Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis page prepared by our editorial team!
Nick starts chapter 4 by listing the most distinguished guests who attend Gatsby’s parties. It is a long list that includes names such as the Chester Beckers, Bunsen, the Christies, and the Ismays. He includes people from both West Egg and East Egg, but all of them are exclusively voguish. There is one man, Klipspringer, who comes to all the parties. He even received the nickname “the boarder” because of that.
One morning Gatsby arrives at Nick’s to take him to lunch. Nick describes Gatsby’s car as of “monstrous length” and “rich cream color,” which is almost yellow. It’s all covered in nickel and has a weird windshield construction.
“He was balancing himself on the dashboard of his car with that resourcefulness of movement that is so peculiarly American – that comes, I suppose, with the absence of lifting work or rigid sitting in youth and, even more, with the formless grace of our nervous, sporadic games.”(The Great Gatsby, chapter 4)
They jump into the car and start their trip to the city. Nick recalls talking to Gatsby only a few times and still doesn’t know anything about him. At first, he thought that Gatsby was a somehow famous persona, but now he only sees a neighbor in him. However, this road trip is about to change his impression once again.
Gatsby starts telling Nick his life story, but it doesn’t sound authentic. For example, he says that he comes from a wealthy family in the Midwest. After Nick asks about the city, Gatsby replies that it is “San Francisco.” Then Gatsby proceeds with presenting even less believable facts, such as his graduation from Oxford, traveling across Europe, and all the medals he received in World War I. But Nick doesn’t seem to be convinced, so Gatsby shows him a war medal and a picture from his Oxford times and promises to tell him a “sad thing” that happened to him at lunch.
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“After that I lived like a young rajah in all the capitals of Europe – Paris, Venice, Rome – collecting jewels, chiefly rubies, hunting big game, painting a little, things for myself only, and trying to forget something very sad that had happened to me long ago.”(The Great Gatsby, chapter 4)
When they arrive, Gatsby and Nick meet Meyer Wolfsheim at lunch. Gatsby introduces him as a man who fixed the 1919 World Series. Mr. Wolfshiem gives the impression of a shady guy who might be connected to Gatsby’s fortune. Nick thinks they may even be involved in underground business with Wolfshiem. Then, Tom Buchanan arrives, and Gatsby disappears.
After lunch, Nick meets up with Jordan Baker, who finally tells that story she heard from Gatsby the other night. She says that during the war, Daisy met a lieutenant in Louisville, Kentucky, and fell in love with him. His name was Jay Gatsby. Daisy’s family didn’t approve of their union, and after he had to leave for the war, Daisy chose to marry another man.
The night before the wedding day, she received a love letter from Jay and got drunk to numb her feelings. The next day, she married Tom Buchanan, and they went on their three-month honeymoon. When Jordan saw them after that, Daisy seemed to be so much in love with Tom that she would go crazy if he left the room for a minute. However, Tom wasn’t so committed and faithful because soon after that, he was caught with another girl when they got into a car accident.
“A week after I left Santa Barbara Tom ran into a wagon on the Ventura road one night and ripped a front wheel off his car. The girl who was with him got into the papers too because her arm was broken – she was one of the chambermaids in the Santa Barbara Hotel.”(The Great Gatsby, chapter 4)
The next year Daisy gave birth to a girl.
Jordan says that Gatsby chose the mansion in West Egg because he wants to be close to Daisy. It is also meant to bring her attention to him. Nick realizes that the green light Gatsby was trying to reach with his hands the other night is a light at Daisy’s dock.
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Then, Jordan asks if Nick can invite Daisy for tea so that Gatsby can come there to meet her. Daisy shouldn’t know anything since it is meant to be a surprise. Nick is shocked by the “modesty of the demand.” After waiting for all those years and spending so much money, Gatsby only asks Nick if he can come over to his house and meet his beloved.
🎭 Active Characters
Nick Carraway, Jordan Baker, Jay Gatsby, Mr. Wolfshiem.
🔥 Active Themes
🔬 The Great Gatsby: Analysis of Chapter 4
The Great Gatsby’s chapter 4 summary provides good evidence that Gatsby is making up all the stories about his life. Some quotes do not align with his story. For example, he says he’s a Middle West guy born in San Francisco and “educated in Oxford.” However, it is unlikely that an Oxford man would make such mistakes. Therefore, Gatsby must be lying about his past. It looks like a trick that most “new rich” people would do: they would create a new identity to fit their new lifestyle. After coming to New York as a wealthy man, he had to reinvent himself. However, Gatsby can also be trying to bring Daisy’s attention. Those unbelievable achievements would interest any girl in the city.
Fitzgerald is raising some critical questions in The Great Gatsby‘s Chapter 4, such as the hidden characteristics of the main characters. In the previous chapters, Gatsby is portrayed as a lavish party guy with shady connections. In this chapter, however, Gatsby shows the other side of his personality. He gets so embarrassed when he is about to meet Tom Buchanan in the restaurant that he flees without saying goodbye. It may seem like the usual behavior of a man who’s in love with someone’s wife. But then Jordan tells Nick about Daisy, Gatsby, and Tom. The way Nick reacts to Jordan’s request brings some light to the situation. Gatsby appears to be a hopeless romantic. He doesn’t want Daisy to cheat on her husband and doesn’t even think of her as someone’s wife. Gatsby dreams about recreating their passionate romance from the past. It may explain why he acts like a young boy crazy in love.
One more scene showing Gatsby’s romanticism is when he was daydreaming and reaching to the green light in Chapter 1. It represents his love for Daisy, his dream of their happy life. However, The Great Gatsby’s analysis reveals hidden themes. The green light and green color symbolize the American Dream. Gatsby’s passion and hope for reaching his dream prevent him from seeing real obstacles. It became the purpose of his life, and he’s using all means possible to achieve it. In this way, he resembles all people chasing the American Dream. Throughout the book, many symbols are indicating the American dream, but the green light is the most important one.
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