In Chapter One of the Great Gatsby, how does NIck react to Jordan?

2 Answers

qejtzuk's profile pic

qejtzuk | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Jordan Baker is a professional golfer, close to Nick's age, and when he first meets her she's lying on a couch with her chin in the air, apparently unaware Nick has entered the room. Nick describes her as "a slender, small-breasted girl, with an erect carriage" and a "wan, charming, discontented face."

Jordan is physically attractive, but like Daisy and Tom, she seems bored. She complains that she's been sitting on the couch "as long as I can remember." Moments later she yawns and says, “We ought to plan something."

During dinner, Nick observes:

Sometimes she and Miss Baker talked at once, unobtrusively and with a bantering inconsequence that was never quite chatter, that was as cool as their white dresses and their impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire.

Jordan also tries to eavesdrop on Tom and Daisy when they leave the table, cutting off Nick's attempts at conversation.

Nick is clearly not impressed with the satiated attitudes of these people. They have more than they need, seem uninspired by life, seek out mild amusement in gossip, and have scandalous secrets.

Nonetheless, he does begin dating Jordan.

Sources:
andrewnightingale's profile pic

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

Posted on

It seems as if Nick is quite intimidated by Jordan Baker when he sees her for the first time. His description indicates that she is completely relaxed, and she seems to have a somewhat supercilious air about her. Her chin is up and she is immobile. She is lying on the couch, stretched out to the full. This description, in itself, reflects self-confidence. Nick is, at this point, almost in awe of her and feels that he has to apologize for having disturbed her.

In his later description, Nick, once again, displays how awestruck he is by Miss Baker. Her reaction to him, though, seems to be deliberately subdued. Her slight movement to acknowledge him is quickly replaced by her previous posture, and Nick again feels the urge to apologize. He explains the reason for his reaction as follows:

Almost any exhibition of complete self-sufficiency draws a stunned tribute from me.

This means that Ms. Baker projects an image of someone who is completely independent and in control. Nick's remark suggests that he has only praise for such people and that he admires Ms. Baker for presenting such a quality. When he again comments about Jordan, it is obvious that he likes what he sees. 

I enjoyed looking at her. She was a slender, small-breasted girl, with an erect carriage, which she accentuated by throwing her body backward at the shoulders like a young cadet. Her gray sun-strained eyes looked back at me with polite reciprocal curiosity out of a wan, charming, discontented face.

Nick states that Jordan has piqued his curiosity and that she seems to show a similar interest in him when she looks back at him. He describes her as having a pale, attractive face which indicates that she is somewhat disgruntled. This description contrasts with that of Daisy, who Nick has described as follows:

Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget...

Nick later discovers that Jordan is something of a snoop and given to gossip. She, for example, silences him so that she can listen in on Daisy and Tom Buchanan's little argument, and she also mentions the fact about Tom having a mistress. In spite of this, Nick has a positive opinion of Jordan, and it is this that inspires him to get involved in a relationship with her soon after.