Describe two incidents involving automobiles in Chapter 3. What role do automobiles seem to play in the novel so far?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In this novel, cars (actually it's not the cars but the way people drive them) are a symbol of the attitudes of the rich.  Practically everyone in the story is a bad driver, especially the rich people.  They do not seem to care about anything -- their lives are empty.  This is symbolized by their driving.

In Chapter 3, the main incident with a car is the one where the car Owl Eyes is riding in crashes in the ditch near Gatsby's home.  The driver is so drunk that he does not realize he can't drive away since the car has lost a wheel.

missy575's profile pic

missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The other incident occurs in the end of Chapter 3 with Jordan Baker (the famous, and likely rich athlete) driving Nick (middle class Middle American) around.

she passed so close to some workmen that our fender flicked a button on one man's coat.

Their conversation continues and Nick encourages her to be more careful with her driving. She asserts that she doesn't have to because other people will get out of her way.

Unfortunately, this is a sad commentary on the rich and their attitude toward everyone else. Every situation in which they drive, they go to fast and end up hurting others. This is indicative of the 1920s. Everything was too fast, and it ended in serious hurt, but not just for the poor, for everyone.

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