In The Great Gatsby, how would I analyse this section?
Hi, I have a follow-up question to the one I had yesterday ... analyzing this paragraph:
"Something in her tone reminded me of the other girl’s “I think he killed a man,” and had the effect of stimulating my curiosity. I would have accepted without question the information that Gatsby sprang from the swamps of Louisiana or from the lower East Side of New York. That was comprehensible. But young men didn’t — at least in my provincial inexperience I believed they didn’t — drift coolly out of nowhere and buy a palace on Long Island Sound. “Anyhow, he gives large parties,” said Jordan, changing the subject with an urbane distaste for the concrete. “And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”
I have a feeling that Nick is trying to be rational about all the rumors said about Gatsby ... it's really confusing to me, to be honest. I can tell that Jordan is vehemently stating her fact, given it to be the degree as "I think he killed a man." The thing about the Louisiana thing is kind of like "what the heck?!" to me, haha.
"Urbane distaste for the concrete" -- Jordan's dislike for the truth (concrete detail?) I'm guessing on all of this so please help, anyone!
3 Answers | Add Yours
This scene occurs after Nick has met Gatsby finally. The meeting was brief and did nothing to put Nick's curiosity about Gatsby to rest. Nick is more curious than ever after meeting the man. Nick's comment about how he'd accept the news that Gatsby sprang from a Louisiana swamp or from the lower east side of New York indicate that he would not be surprised to hear that Gatsby, however suave and rich he is now, came from humble beginnings. He knows that Gatsby probably wasn't born rich and raised in a life of ease; he realizes that Gatsby had to do something to earn the money to buy his elaborate house and live his extravagant life style.
Jordan's comments indicate that she, like Nick, doesn't believe the fanciful biography that Gatsby gives out about his past. She is like Nick in that respect - she knows that there is more going on with Gatsby and more to his past than he lets out. Her comment about disliking small parties due to lack of intimacy reveal more of her personality. She is attracted to Nick and she likes being able to talk with him without people noticing as they would at a small gathering where everyone is noticed since the numbers are small. Jordan likes living by her own rules and private conversations allow more of that for her.
This is a very interesting section you have highlighted, because it serves to confirm the great mystery surrounding Gatsby and his rise to power and wealth. Remember, it is only in this Chapter that we are finally introduced to Jay Gatsby, after having heard lots about him. Especially during the party in Chapter 3, Nick hears many different kinds of rumours explaining Gatsby's rise in society. It is important to remember that this is something else that serves to isolate Gatsby from the society that he is now a part of and has given up so much to join - he is nothing more than an object of suspicion, rumour and gossip. That the guests at his party use the time to circulate and discuss such rumours show that, for all his wealth, Gatsby is not an accepted member of the wealthy.
However, this paragraph also shows Nick's curiosity as well at how Gatsby was able to reach his current social standing. It is important to note the way that Nick identifies himself with Gatsby. There are many similarities between them in terms of their background, and so Nick is curious as to how Gatsby has achieved so much coming from such a humble background. Nick shows his rational character here - he doesn't accept the more "romantic" rumours concerning how he gained his wealth, but he does logically look at the issue and express his uncertainty at how Gatsby managed to gain the wealth that he did:
But young men didn't - at least in my provincial inexperience I believed they didn't - drift coolly out of nowhere and buy a palace on Long Island Sound.
Note the reasonable and logical tone Nick takes here as he seeks to work out a more realistic explanation for Gatsby's wealth.
Jordan is revealed to be one of those shallow socialites who prefer large parties because they are more "intimate", preferring the "privacy" that such events give you, whereas smaller parties give you no room for escape.
Ok well I used both of your answers to help me understand ... so I can't really pick a best answer :) Thanks to both of you guys!
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