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What image does Fitzgerald use to describe Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby?

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pookygirl | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 27, 2009 at 3:58 AM via web

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What image does Fitzgerald use to describe Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby?

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 27, 2009 at 6:15 AM (Answer #1)

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In the novel, women are portrayed as symbols, flat characters, representations of things and emotions.  Daisy is associated with money (her voice) and Pammy (a hopeless little fool).  She is a temptress, a siren, the green light, the embodiment of Gatsby's dream.

Jordan Baker is the prototypical flapper.  Nick first sees her in a magazine.  So says eNotes:

Nick recalls that he saw her picture in photos of the sporting life at Asheville, Hot Springs, and Palm Beach in connection with a “critical, unpleasant story.” The reader later discovers this concerns a time she cheated in a major golf tournament.

Like Daisy, she is connected with things: photos, golf, dishonesty.  Jordan admits she only hangs out with “stupid” and “careless” men. Must this include Nick also?  Of course.  Nick is somehow attracted to Jordan's sensuality, her bobbed hair, her amorality.  Enotes continues:

When she first appears in the novel, she is lounging on a sofa with Daisy “as cool as their white dresses and their impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire,” like two princesses in an unreal world. Both women use and dispose of people, as Gatsby and Nick experience firsthand. In Fitzgerald's long line of sensual, modern flapper characters, Jordan is one of the most well-known. There is an amoral aura about her, and her world revolves around herself and false material values. Jordan is distinguished from Daisy m her hard, unsentimental view of romance.

He also comments on how bad of a driver she is, and she and Nick observe the car accident at Gatsby's party--both of which foreshadow the death by car accident to come later.  In short, she is a careless person--like the whole damned bunch of the other East Eggers.

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

Posted October 27, 2009 at 6:42 AM (Answer #2)

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Fitzgerald presents several images to describe Jordan.  In Chapter 1, Nick views her as someone trying to delicately balance an object on her chin and who walks with her shoulders back and spine erect "like a young cadet." Both of these images cause the reader to see Jordan as a cardboard figure who outwardly walks the "fine line" of Old Money society, but whom Nick hopes is not as shallow or "precarious" as she appears to be.

Jordan's name is also symbolic.  Her first and last names are fittingly the names of cars during the Roaring 20s.  Jordan uses automobiles carelessly just like the rest of the rich, and so she--like the cars--represents Old Money society smashing up the other "unfortunate" humans who get in their way.

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