Chapter Three Characterisation Gatsby, Jordan, Nick Setting Style Theme Perception versus Reality Structure Symbolism Cars, Owl Eyes
Why Chapter important? Reader introduced to lavish, extravagant world of Gatsby – conveyed by description of his party Chapter Three helps to illustrate main themes of lavish excess of the 1920s, the corruption of the American Dream, the isolation of Gatsby and the shallowness of the American Upper Classes.
Structure - Delayed Introduction of Gatsby In the first two chapters of the novel the reader has : i) seen Gatsby from a distance ii) heard other characters talk about him iii) heard Nick’s thoughts on him Yet, we have not met him Discussion – why has Fitzgerald structured the opening chapters in this way?
Structure – Delayed Introduction of Gatsby Chapter Three is devoted to an introduction of Gatsby and the lavish showy world he inhabits Yet, Gatsby’s introduction is further delayed “Sometimes they came and went without having met Gatsby at all”
Structure/Style – Repetition of Conjecture about Gatsby “Somebody told me…….” “Somebody told me they thought he killed a man once” “It’s more that he was a German spy during the war” The repetition of the conjecture about Gatsby further adds to his mystery
Style - Mystery created around the character of Gatsby When we do eventually meet him:- “I’m Gatsby”, he said suddenly. “What!” I exclaimed. “Oh, I beg your pardon.” Yet our first proper meeting with him further adds to the mystery. The low profile he maintains is out of place with his lavish expenditure
Style – Mysterious like atmosphere created around Gatsby Repetition of “Old sport” further adds to the mystery of Gatsby as it makes him sound more English Jordan’s words create further mystery – “I’ve just heard the most amazing thing,” she whispered….”it was simply amazing”, she repeated abstractedly”
Style – The Great Gatsby - title The title is reminiscent of a vaudeville billing or the name of a magician like “The Great Houdini” Is this to emphasise the theatrical and perhaps illusion like qualities of Gatsby’s life? This is further conveyed by:-
Style - Dreamlike quality of proceedings the fact that throughout this chapter description is used to create a dreamlike atmosphere:- “In his garden men and girls came and went like moths” “A tray of cocktails floated at us through the twilight” Again an air of illusion is successfully created
Characterisation - Gatsby Does this perhaps suggest that there is something illusionary about Gatsby himself?
Characterisation – Gatsby Not only is an air of mystery created around Gatsby – “believe” / “impression”/ “convey” He is also portrayed as being almost like royalty – “signed Jay Gatsby in a majestic hand” He is portrayed as doing everything to excess
Characterisation - Gatsby Discussion Explain the way in which the following quotes suggest excess:- “the orchestra had arrived, no thin five piece affair but a whole pitful of oboes and trombones and saxophones and viols and …”
Characterisation - Gatsby “the cars from New York are parked five deep in the drive” “At least once a fortnight a corp of caterers” “Enough coloured lights to make a Christmas tree of Gatsby’s enormous garden”
Characterisation / Theme - Gatsby / Isolation Yet, Fitzgerald clearly creates an air of isolation around Gatsby – “standing alone on the marble steps and looking from one group to another” “Sometimes they came and went without having met Gatsby at all”
Characterisation / Theme - Gatsby / Isolation Gatsby stands ‘alone’ at the edge of his party. The wilder the party gets, the more Gatsby seems like an outsider – he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t flirt and he grows ‘more correct as the fraternal hilarity increased’.
Characterisation / Theme - Gatsby / Isolation At the end of the party, when the ‘laughter and sound’ has died away, Gatsby is shown in ‘complete isolation’ with his “hand up in a formal gesture of farewell. This echoes the end of Chapter One where Gatsby “stretched out his arms towards the dark water”, reaching out for Daisy.
Characterisation / Theme Isolation - Gatsby Think back to previous chapters Discussion In what other ways has Gatsby’s isolation been conveyed?
Characterisation - Gatsby The repetition of the business calls early in the morning perhaps suggests underworld business connections Discussion Why is this idea reinforced by the calls coming from Chicago?
Characterisation - Gatsby Nick comments on Gatsby’s affected “formality of speech” – this gives an early hint that Gatsby’s smile and speech are part of a DELIBERATELY CRAFTED PERSONA. Gatsby’s library is “panelled with carved English Oak” to make his house appear more like the older mansions of established aristocratic families. This is an early hint that there is something unreal about both Gatsby’s house and his life.
Characterisation - Nick Again Nick’s reliability as a narrator is questioned Discussion Explain why the following quotes make us question Nick’s reliability:-
Nick’s reliability as a narrator “I had taken two finger bowls of champagne, and the scene had changed before my eyes into something significant, elemental and profound” “It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life”
Nick’s reliability as a narrator Read the following:- “ Reading over what I have written so far, I see I have given the impression that the events of three nights several weeks apart were all that absorbed me” Here he reminds us that he is the writer as well as the narrator. Events have therefore been filtered and recollected by him. Is he reliable?
Nick’s reliability as a narrator Read the following:- “ I even had a short affair with a girl who lived in Jersey City…but her brother began throwing mean looks in my direction” Why? Nick is supposed to be honest and reliable. Is this a warning? Does he only tell us what he wants us to know?
Nick’s reliability as a narrator Consider the final sentence of the chapter :- “ Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known” Discussion In what ways is this sentence given significance?
Nick’s reliability as a narrator Yet, if he is so honest, why is he attracted to Jordan - “ I felt a sort of tender curiosity…for a moment I thought I loved her” He acknowledges that she is dishonest “a suggestion that she moved her ball from a bad lie” Yet, “It made no difference to me. Dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply”
Nick characterisation Nick is undoubtedly lonely:- Consider his description of New York – “ forms leaned together in the taxis as they waited, and voices sang, and there was laughter from unheard jokes and… imagining that I too, was hurrying towards gaiety and sharing their intimate excitement, I wished them well”
Nick characterisation This extract clearly conveys Nick’s loneliness. He is merely reporting the situation, he is not part of it “Most of the time I worked” - Nick’s loneliness is further emphasised by the fact that his life is far different from those of Gatsby and the other characters
Nick characterisation / Theme Loneliness Nick is dressed in white at the party. This makes him different to the crowd who are dressed in colourful outfits – “spectroscopic” He seems uncomfortable at the party – “purposeless and alone”
Characterisation - Jordan Discussion Consider the following quotes. For each explain why they again suggest a negative impression of Jordan:- “she responded absently as I came up” “ she was incurably dishonest”
Symbolism - Cars “His Rolls Royce became an omnibus” Cars represent the wealth of America, but Gatsby is not happy with a Ford motor car – most Americans who could afford a car had one. Remember the connotations of a Rolls Royce – great wealth and social privilege
Symbolism - Cars “Gatsby’s car completes his image as a successful self-made man. It is a “rich cream colour, bright with nickel” – the combination of rich colours links his car to precious metals.
Symbolism – Owl Eyes “Absolutely real – have pages and everything….they are absolutely real…It fooled me” Does Owl Eyes surprised reaction that Gatsby’s books are real suggest that he might think that Gatsby himself is also a fake? Owl Eyes is surprised to discover that the books are real and not just empty covers and cases. Does this suggest that the people of West Egg and East Egg are ornate covers too? Does their outward show of opulence cover up their inner corruption and moral decay?
Symbolism - Owl Eyes Does this tie in with the theme of Perception versus Reality? The party is an elaborate theatrical production. People do not even really like each other – “East Egg condescending to West Egg”. Does Owl Eyes perhaps suggest that Gatsby’s whole life is merely a show? Discussion Any thoughts on the name Owl Eyes?
Foreshadowing – Example One Owl Eyes mutters to himself that if “one brick was removed the whole library was liable to collapse” - makes the point that if one part of Gatsby’s outward image were to falter, the entire illusion would shatter. THIS FORESHADOWS HOW GATSBY’S LIFE WILL FALL APART.
Foreshadowing – Example Two Owl Eyes is involved in a car crash as he leaves the party. He is mistakenly thought to be the driver – “You don’t understand… I wasn’t driving”. This foreshadows Gatsby’s involvement in Myrtle’s death.
Theme – Perception versus Reality The behaviour of the American Upper classes suggests that their wealth covers up their vulgar behaviour:- “ They conducted themselves according to the rules of behaviour associated with an amusement park”
Theme – Perception versus Reality “Most of the remaining women were now having fights with men said to be their husbands” Lavish appearances cover less positive realities This ties in with the idea of DISTORTED VISION
Theme - Perception versus Reality Discussion Briefly list the examples of DISTORTED VISION or examples within the novel so far when Perception differs drastically from Reality What could this suggest about Gatsby himself?