The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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At the end of chapter 3 in The Great Gatsby, Nick meets Jordan again. He includes several episodes that emphasize her carelessness and basic dishonesty. Discuss these instances. What do they reveal about Jordan? About Nick?

At the end of chapter 3 in The Great Gatsby, when Nick meets Jordan again, the several episodes that emphasize her carelessness and basic dishonesty include her cheating at a golf tournament, lying about damaging a car, and driving recklessly. These instances suggest that Jordan lacks moral decency and that Nick is more judgmental than he claims to be in chapter 1.

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Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Nick recounts a few stories that basically identify Jordan as a cheater: someone who has no regard for others' feelings or property or even for more general ideas of fairness or justice. She once "left a borrowed car out in the rain with the top down, and then lied about it." He also recalls a story that, during a golf tournament, "she had moved her ball from a bad lie in the semi-final round." It sounds very much as though someone either bribed or threatened the only two witnesses to retract their stories. Nick claims that Jordan "instinctively avoided clever shrewd men" because she is "incurably dishonest" and unable "to endure being at a disadvantage." He describes her as insolent, and this is not a compliment. Someone who is insolent speaks insultingly to others and is even contemptuous in their speech and conduct to other people. Jordan's very demeanor can be offensive and truculent.

In regard to Nick himself, he tells us in chapter 1 that he is "inclined to reserve all judgments" because of his upbringing, and I think that his behavior toward Jordan supports this. Most of us, I imagine, upon hearing her lie about ruining someone else's car, would think that she is pretty awful and discontinue any contact with her. However, Nick does not. He continues to see her, even when he has further proofs of her complete lack of integrity or goodness. It takes a long time for him to judge her, for him to judge any of them, showing that he does indeed reserve judgment until the mountain of evidence becomes just too high to ignore.

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Bridgett Sumner, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Nick witnesses for himself Jordan's tendency to lie. He remembers that they had been together at a house party when it rained and that Jordan had left the top down on a convertible she had borrowed. She later lied about it. When he sees this, Nick recalls that he had heard a story about Jordan moving her ball to a better position during the "semi-final round" of "her first big golf tournament." It tainted her name in a way that had stayed with Nick since he heard the story.

Later, he observes her nearly hit a workman with the car she'd borrowed. When Nick chides her for her recklessness, she retorts that others will "keep out of my way."

Jordan's behaviors suggest that she is a morally compromised person, and she is not at all apologetic about it. She lives her life on her own terms and seems to believe that others are entitled to do the same. She witnesses crimes and infidelity, and none of it seems to bother her; in fact, she is amused by it, evidenced by her blatant eavesdropping on Tom and Daisy's arguments.

In his mind, Nick considers Jordan "incurably dishonest." Though he doesn't confront Jordan about her lies, it is clear that Nick does have a judgmental outlook, despite his assertion in chapter 1 that he is "inclined to reserve all judgments." Nick likes to think of himself as a moral person who has been well-raised and knows the difference between right and wrong, but by the novel's end, he has broken the law of Prohibition many times, and he conceals knowledge of serious crimes committed by others.

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At the end of chapter 3, Nick asserts that Jordan lies. In particular, he suddenly remembers an incident of barely averted scandal in which she was accused of moving a golf ball to a better position during her first tournament. He writes that she was "incurably dishonest."

He also recounts a time in which she drove carelessly. When he accuses her of almost running over a workman on the side of the road, she responds that she doesn't need to be careful because other people are.

Nick notes a further incident that illustrates both her carelessness and dishonesty: she leaves the top of a "borrowed" car down in the rain and then lies about it.

These incidents, if true, show that Jordan puts protecting herself above being honest; it's more important to her to look good (like a winner at golf and like a person who is careful enough to put a car top up) than to tell the truth. It has often been suggested that she engages in subterfuges because she is gay, needing to

keep that cool, insolent smile turned to the world and yet satisfy the demands of her hard jaunty body.

Because Jordan can't defend herself or argue with what Nick is saying about her, the words say more about him than her. He shows his sexism when he makes a blanket and derogatory statement about "women" in general:

It made no difference to me. Dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply—I was casually sorry, and then I forgot.

The passage, including the above statement, also shows Nick's dishonesty, at least to himself. Obviously, everything he says about Jordan did make a "difference" to him or he wouldn't dwell on these traits long after the fact. He also, obviously, didn't forget. Further, although he says honesty is his own "cardinal virtue," he carelessly makes this statement just after he has explained that he has been dishonestly leading on the girl in Chicago to whom Tom and Daisy thought he was engaged. All of this suggests that Nick is blind to some of his own flaws—and perhaps projecting them onto Jordan.

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