After we learn that Gatsby lives right next to Nick in chapter 1, we finally hear his first words in chapter 3 and get a face to face introduction. Upon finishing chapter 3, I am particularly intrigued by Gatsby's peculiar existence.
First of all, Gatsby's extravagant parties clearly demonstrate his affluence, so why does he live on West Egg?
West Egg East Egg
- less fashionable - where everyone wants to be
- poorer - beautiful
- more rural - more established
Upon some gathering of class notes and googling, East Egg seems to be the side of old money whereas West Egg was more "new money". This idea reflects a discussion we had in class where we talked about how the east of the United States symbolized old money and tradition, while the west represented new money and innovation. Earlier in the novel, Nick describes Gatsby's mansion as "a factual imitation of some Hôtel de Ville in Normandy" (Fitzgerald 5). The fact that his house imitates a hotel shows the excessiveness that is typically associated with "the poor taste of new money". Though, so far in the novel, Nick seems to heavily admire Gatsby, he clearly does not think Gatsby has great taste as demonstrated through his language. At the average Gatsby party as described by Nick, "the halls and salons and verandas are gaudy with primary colors, and hair shorn in strange new ways," (Fitzgerald 40). When I think of "gaudy" and bright primary colors, I certainly do not think of taste. Actually, primary colors ever seem a little childish to me, like the way a "new money" person would spend their money, recklessly, like a child.
Secondly, I thought it was strange that Gatsby would take interest in Nick at all. After all, they seem to be from different tiers of society, despite the fact that they are neighbors. Even Nick sounds surprised when he narrates: "I had been actually invited... He had seen me several times, and had intended to call on me long before, but a peculiar combination of circumstances had prevented it – signed Jay Gatsby, in a majestic hand" (Fitzgerald 41). Gatsby's somewhat unusual interest in Nick makes me question his own background and the source of his wealth.
Yet, when Gatsby speaks in chapter 3, he demonstrates properness and manner, which isn't the first thing people think of when they hear "new money". On top of Gatsby's politeness, he also often uses the words "old sport", which according to the internet is used as a term of endearment to address equals. He even goes so far as to invite Nick to fly the hydroplane. Gatsby's strong interest in Nick and their exchanges once again make me question Gatsby's past.
After we've established Gatsby's wealth as "new money" wealth, what is the real truth about Gatsby and his wealth? There has been a lot of talk about it at the party. Can Gatsby's courteous mannerisms mask the truth of his past????? What is the truth of his past??????????? What are his true motives of becoming closer with Nick???????? Tune in next week to see what else I find out as I read!