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Could you please tell me the literal meaning of "to entertain or to be entertained" in...

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coutelle | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted April 10, 2013 at 11:30 PM via web

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Could you please tell me the literal meaning of "to entertain or to be entertained" in the following excerpt of the first chapter of The Great Gatsby?

Sometimes she and Miss Baker talked at once, unobtrusively and with a bantering inconsequence that was never quite chatter, that was as cool as their white dresses and their impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire. They were here—and they accepted Tom and me, making only a polite pleasant effort to entertain or to be entertained. They knew that presently dinner would be over and a little later the evening too would be over and casually put away.

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choucksolace | College Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted April 11, 2013 at 12:19 AM (Answer #1)

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"Entertain" means to hold the attention of others, to extend hospitality to others, to amuse, or to consider or contemplate an idea. In the context of the quote, the third definition is most fitting. One of the main themes of The Great Gatsby is the meaningless of modern life. The two characters described in this passage, Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker, do not engage in meaningful conversation. They merely seek and provide amusement. They are polite to Daisy's husband, Tom, and their guest, Nick, but they are merely going through the motions of entertaining.

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