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At Gatsby's Party in The Great Gatsby, Jordon says to Nick about Gatsby's parties,  At...

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xbro | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 8, 2011 at 10:12 AM via web

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At Gatsby's Party in The Great Gatsby, Jordon says to Nick about Gatsby's parties,

 

At Gatsby's Party, Jordon says to Nick about Gatsby's parties, "Anyhow he gives large parties....and I like large parties. They're so intimate. At small parties there isn't any privacy."

What does she mean by that, and if that is true, how might that serve Gatsby's purpose in attracting Daisy?

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 8, 2011 at 12:56 PM (Answer #1)

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This quote brings up an interesting paradox about parties.  Jordan says something that doesn't seem like it could be true -- it seems that the opposite would be true -- and yet with some thought the quote makes perfect sense.  That is the definition of a paradox: a seemingly contradictory statement that is actually true.

In this case, Jordan is talking about parties.  She claims that large parties are more intimate.  At a first thought that makes no sense: how can you have intimate conversations or interactions with people at a large party?  There are so many people around it would seem that it would be hard to get into deep conversations with people.  You could spend your whole night just making a superficial attempt to meet and greet fellow party attendees.  She extends her thought by adding that at a small party there isn't any privacy, when in actuality, small parties are very private:  only a select few are in attendance.  So the question is, "how can Jordan be right?"

Jordan is right because at a large party there are so many people present that each individual can actually have a sense of anonymity and be "lost in the crowd."  If two people are lost in the sea of other people, they have an intimacy that could block out all the behavior and conversations of those around them.  There is no intense scrutiny of them.  You have the opportunity to have an intimate conversation if there are lots of other people having lots of other conversations with everyone else.  One the other hand, when you are at a small party, there is no escape.  Your absence is noticeable.  You can't have a private chat because the small group in the room is listening and observing  the few people around them.  Perhaps there is only one conversation happening at a time.  There would certainly be no privacy in that circumstance -- whatever you say is said to the whole group.  There can be no asides without drawing everyone's attention to the side-conversation.

Gatsby wants to attract Daisy's attention, and he knows that she may attend one of his grand affairs for the express reason that she could remain somewhat private and aloof amoungst a throng of party-goers.  She would have the privacy to blend into the background and merely observe -- to see for herself what Gatsby has become.

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