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In The Great Gatsby, who is the "boarder"? How did he get the name?  

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tyshelle | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 1, 2013 at 3:31 PM via web

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In The Great Gatsby, who is the "boarder"? How did he get the name?

 

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William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 1, 2013 at 6:33 PM (Answer #1)

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The "boarder" is introduced in Chapter 5. His full name is Ewing Klipspringer. He appears to be a former party guest who just made himself at home in Gatsby's big mansion, where it is very easy to lose a guest. Gatsby tolerates him out of generosity, perhaps out of loneliness, probably out of indifference because he is so used to providing for strangers. Klipspringer is described as follows:

He went out of the room calling "Ewing!" and returned in a few minutes accompanied by an embarrassed, slightly worn young man, with shell-rimmed glasses and scanty blond hair. He was now decently clothed in a sport shirt, open at the neck, sneakers, and duck trousers of a nebulous hue."

Klipspringer can play the piano, after a fashion, which is another reason that Gatsby puts up with him. Gatsby's kindness to people in need, as Klipspringer obviously is, presents a stark contrast to the sadistic way in which Tom Bunchanan treats the needy George Wilson, while at the same time carrying on an illicit affair with Wilson's wife. Gatsby gets Klipspringer to play the piano for his guests, Nick and Daisy. One of the tunes he plays is the very popular song "Ain't We Got Fun?" Fitzgerald quotes part of the lyrics:

"In the morning,
In the evening,
    Ain't we got fun--"

Another part of the lyrics, not quoted, goes:

"Got no money,
Oh, but honey,
    Ain't we got fun?"

Klipspringer is a mediocre pianist and, as he says, he is out of practice. He is embarrassed by his poor playing and also embarrassed by being spotlighted as a sort of uninvited permanent guest. But Gatsby himself is extremely embarrassed by being with Daisy for the first time in many years, and it would appear that he uses the embarrassment of Klipspringer to divert attention from his own embarrassment. This motive is conveyed through Nick's subtle narration and is a fine example of Nick's sensitive discrimination.

At the end of Chapter 5, Gatsby manages to overcome his shyness and awkwardness.

His hand took hold of hers, and as she said something low in his ear he turned toward her with a rush of emotion.

Nick realizes not only that "Two's company, three's a crowd," but that Daisy and Gatsby are already oblivious of their existence. The final sentence of the chapter reads:

Then I went out of the room and down the marble steps into the rain, leaving them there together.

This kind of a "fade out" should leave no doubt in the reader's mind that Gatsby and Daisy are going to do precisely what Fitzgerald could not actually describe because of the conventions of the period when his book was published. In plain English, they are going to take their clothes off and go to bed together. And this will be only the first of many such undescribed liaisons.

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