Describe the two ways in which Nick differs from the other guests at the party in The Great Gatsby.

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Michael Otis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter 3 of The Great Gatsby features the bacchic dinner parties thrown by their nearly invisible host, Jay Gatsby. Like moths to a flame, men and girls from all walks of life - the high-born and ordinary people, too - are drawn to these extravagant affairs where champagne, dancing and flirting flowed on in reckless abandon into the small hours of the morning. Curiously, though, the host behaves in a way that deviates from the conduct of the guests who routinely flock to his parties. Where they are glib and superficial, engaging in the kind of antics appropriate to 'the amusement park', Gatsby himself stands apart. When Gatsby's invitee and 'biographer', Nick Carraway circulates at the party for the first time, he encounters a man who seems to have more substance than the other guests, who takes a more than passing interest in him. He is, of course, Gatsby to whose smile of welcome the reader responds in precisely the same way as the narrator. Thus, the reader too basks in his "eternal reassurance". Gatsby bares the elemental truth that he "believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey." As the 'man who invented himself', Gatsby has also perfected an extreme decorum which sets him apart from his guests, so much so that by the end of the evening - when the partygoers are falling over eachother in liquored flirtation, Gatsby stands on the margins of the society he created, alone, "his career as Trimalchio over". 

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The Great Gatsby

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