How does Jordan Baker determine her own fate in The Great Gatsby?

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Jordan is quite unlike many of the other characters in the novel because of her seeming complacency toward much of what occurs.  She fends for herself in addition to living off the money she has from her wealthy family by playing golf and associating with "the right kind of people."  She also controls much of what happens to her by not caring much about what happens to others.  For example, she cheats in a golf game, because she desires to win and is not concerned about what she has to do to accomplish that goal.  She ruins a friend's car and almost injures Nick in a car incident, but lies about the former and brushes off the latter.

At the novel's end, Fitzgerald does imply that Jordan is not as invulnerable as she would like to appear.  She was truly hurt by Nick's abandonment of her and accuses him of "throwing her over." But again, her interest in the topic is based on how Nick affected her, not what he or others endured at the hands of the Buchanans.

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lessickm | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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Here's the gist of it:  Jordan lives in East Egg.  This is where upper class society lives.  Jordan can be described as a arrogant and dishonest young woman.  We can see this on page 11 in The Great Gatsby when she says, " 'You live in the West Egg,' she remarked contemptuously." When she says this she is looking down on Nick Carroway (narrator of the story).  West Egg was where people with new money lived.  East Egg residents looked down on the people of West Egg because people in West Egg inherited their money;  They didn't work for it. When Daisy Buchanan tries to set up Nick with Jordan, Jordan walks off stating, "I haven't heard a word" (page 19) . She clearly has heard what Daisy said, but doesn't see Nick as a good catch. Additionally, on page 58, she "left a borrowed car out in the rain with the top down, and then lied about it...."  This further conveys her dishonesty.

While Jordan is both arrogant and dishonest, she is also an independent woman.  She is a tennis champion who wants for nothing.  Nick is drawn to her because of her status.  On page 59 she says to Nick, "I hate careless people.  That's why I like you."  She sees him as a careful and solid man.  However, when Daisy hits and kills Myrtle with Gatsby's car, Jordan seems callous, while Nick is sick at the death.  Directly after the death, Jordan says, "It's only half-past nine" (143). Indicating that a death should not ruin their evening.  Finally, Nick has an epiphany (a realization) and says, "I'd had enough of all of them for one day, and suddenly that included Jordan too" (143).

Yes, Jordan's behaviors determine her own fate. At the end of the text when Nick goes to say goodbye to her her, she tells him without comment that she is engaged to another man (178).  Her last few words are rather ironic as she tells Nick, "'I thought you were rather an honest, straightforward person" (179).  She thought he was what she was looking for, a man that possessed the same qualities as her.  However, he is not arrogant, nor dishonest.

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