The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Analysis of Chapter 3

Everyone's gossip about Gatsby shows that no one at the party has any real understanding of who he is. During a song played by the orchestra, everyone in the crowd becomes very romantic and sentimental yet, as Nick points out, "but no one swooned backward on Gatsby and no French bob touched Gatsby's shoulder and no singing quartets were formed with Gatsby's head for one link". His detachment from the group of people he is entertaining seems odd. Why would he have them at his home if he was not close to them? There are several reasons. Possibly Gatsby threw those parties in the hopes that Daisy would come to one of them and he could see her again. Another possibility is that throwing parties was what Gatsby always thought wealthy people did, and so for appearances, he must throw parties too. He is always working on his image and this may be part of the image he is trying to accomplish. Since, as we find out later in the novel, Gatsby actually grew up poor. The opulent parties may be a way for him to tell himself that he has arrived and to make sure everyone is aware that he is a man of great wealth, just like he always wanted to be.

When Nick calls on Jordan, she drives him through the city. It is during this drive that one of the most important words in the book is first used: careless. Nick describes Jordan as a "careless" driver. She seems unconcerned that she drives so poorly. Nick asks, "suppose you met somebody just as careless as yourself?" and she replies "I hope I never will". Fitzgerald uses the word careless to describe many of the characters. This attitude is closely tied to the theme of consequence and responsibility.

At the end of the chapter Nick says of himself, "I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known". Although this may seem important in understanding his character, the quote must be looked at carefully. Nick is saying this of himself but it may not necessarily be true. Nick seems to lie several times in the book and here again the untrustworthy nature of the first person narrator is exemplified.