Does Nick enjoy the afternoon at the apartment in New York?

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Blaze Bergstrom eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The afternoon in the New York apartment is informative about several aspects of Nick's personality as well as the information he gleans while he is there. The first issue is why he goes there at all. The second is why he doesn't leave much sooner. Enjoyment does not seem to enter into any of the characters' attitudes toward the afternoon. Nick seems fascinated or captivated by a scene that is outside his frame of reference.

Throughout the book, Fitzgerald presents Nick as fundamentally weak and easily manipulated. He also shows Nick as harshly critical in his attitudes, although he rarely expresses those thoughts to others at the time.

Nick tells the reader this occasion was only the second time he ever got drunk. That does not explain why he stayed long enough to do so. It seems likely that he wanted to learn more about Tom's "mistress," as he earlier mentioned his curiosity about her.

Once he has had too much to drink, he feels like he wants to get out and walk, but again and again becomes "entangled in some wild, strident argument...." He is aware of the "secrecy" emanating from the apartment. He imagines himself outside, looking up at the windows, "I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life."

While the chapter is important in establishing Nick as a voyeur and outsider, it also establishes Tom's violent nature and Nick's fear of him. If Tom would hit a woman for no reason, what might he do to Nick if he did not maintain his confidence? Nick's fear and discretion are later important factors in the tragic plot.

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William Delaney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Nick does not say whether he enjoyed the afternoon at the apartment in New York, but from his description of the people and events he witnessed it does not seem possible that he could have enjoyed the experience. He explained at the beginning of the novel that he had been brought up to be tolerant of other people, and the best that can be said is that he tolerated the afternoon but was undoubtedly glad to get away. Tom was surprisingly trusting to introduce him to his mistress and to drag him to her New York apartment where he met some of her lowbrow friends. After all, Nick was Daisy's cousin. Wasn't Tom concerned that Nick might share any o his knowledge with her? Or did Tom assume that Daisy already knew he was having an affair and that she didn't want to learn anything more about the sordid details? Nick is almost incredibly discreet. He shares Gatsby's confidences as well as Tom's and Daisy's.

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