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I'd like to know the precise meaning of "confused" and "out" in the expression "he had...

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coutelle | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted August 2, 2013 at 1:52 AM via web

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I'd like to know the precise meaning of "confused" and "out" in the expression "he had hurried out to see'" in the following excerpt from the beginning of the Chapter Six of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald:

"About this time an ambitious young reporter from New York arrived one morning at Gatsby’s door and asked him if he had anything to say.

'Anything to say about what?' inquired Gatsby politely.

'Why—any statement to give out.'

It transpired after a confused five minutes that the man had heard Gatsby’s name around his office in a connection which he either wouldn’t reveal or didn’t fully understand. This was his day off and with laudable initiative he had hurried out 'to see.'"

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 2, 2013 at 3:22 AM (Answer #1)

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"He came alive...delivered suddenly from the womb of his purposeless splendor" in Chapter Four, and Gatsby touches the imaginations of people who have met or heard of him.  It is this notoriety that has reached the reporter, who hurries out of whatever building he is in the hope of attaining a news story. Moreover, with the natural curiosity of a journalist, the reporter wants to see just who this Gatsby is who is rumored 

to live in a boat that looked like a house and was moved secretly up and down the Long Island shore.  

When the young reporter arrives, he has no specific question to ask Gatsby such as "I understand you are involved with an underground pipe-line to Canada" or the like, so he rather dully asks Gatsby if he has "anything to say," a phrase used when one interviews someone coming from a courthouse or the scene of a crime. Since Gatsby has not come from anywhere or had any kind of event take place, he inquires, "Anything to say about what?" So, after the "confused five minutes" in which the reporter tries to think of something he might have heard and while Gatsby tries to imagine what the journalist means, the reporter finally confides that he has heard Gatsby's name around the office.

Nick Carraway narrates that the reporter's instincts are correct, for Gatsby's name has become one that is tossed about by the socialites and party-goers. The reporter wonders if Gatsby is someone of import since these people speak of him.

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