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Could you please tell me the meaning of "ecstatic cahoots" in chapter eight of The...

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coutelle | Valedictorian

Posted August 21, 2013 at 1:46 PM via web

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Could you please tell me the meaning of "ecstatic cahoots" in chapter eight of The Great Gatsby?

First he nodded politely, and then his face broke into that radiant and understanding smile, as if we’d been in ecstatic cahoots on that fact all the time.

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 21, 2013 at 6:03 PM (Answer #2)

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First he nodded politely, and then his face broke into that radiant and understanding smile, as if we’d been in ecstatic cahoots on that fact all the time. 

To be in cahoots with someone is to be in their company, to be in a partnership, and it is often a partnership that is secret and/or unknown to others. So, since it can be a secret partnership, it can also mean to conspire (which can be taken as good or bad; in this case, it means something good, some secret knowledge shared among two friends: Nick and Gatsby). 

Ecstatic does mean overjoyed, full of intense emotion, even to the point of a transcendent feeling. In philosophy, ecstasy can mean to stand outside oneself ("ec" as in "ex" - "out" of stasis). So, in this case with Nick and Gatsby, it is as if their shared emotion/thought exists outside of their bodies, in the air between them. Gatsby responds to Nick's compliment simply with a smile, thus keeping the secret understanding between them (cahoots) and again as if their mutual understanding was shared on some transcendent (ecstatic, "out of body") level. 

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wishbearcd | Student, Grade 11 | eNoter

Posted August 21, 2013 at 4:06 PM (Answer #1)

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Ecstatic means overjoyed and cahoots means to conspire. So in this sentence the author was probably trying to tell the reader that Nick got his point across to Gatsby, that Daisy and Tom aren't the best of people.

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