The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Explain the point of Owl-Eyes's admiration for Gatsby's library.

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Michael Del Muro eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, the owl-eyed man marvels at Gatsby's library because he expected the books to be, like Gatsby himself, fraudulent and full of blank pages. This scene suggests two things: 1. It foreshadows Gatsby's lies about his past and how he came from "some wealthy people in the Middle West"; 2. It also shows that, while Gatsby might not be honest about his background and where his money comes from, he is genuine.

This scene with the "stout, middle-aged man, with enormous owl-eyed spectacles" occurs before Nick meets Gatsby. Nick and Jordan wander through Gatsby's house and stumble into the library, where the aforementioned owl-eyed man says he "ascertained" and found that the books were, in fact, real. However, the real books do nothing to change this man's opinion of Gatsby as someone who is a fraud. He marvels at Gatsby's "thoroughness" and "realism." He calls Gatsby a "regular Belasco," in reference to a famous Broadway producer and playwright. Also, the placement of an "owl-eyed man" as a source of knowledge is obvious symbolism. Fitzgerald, very early on in the novel, suggests that this man is wise and is correct about Gatsby's fraudulent story about his past.

However, it's impossible not to mention that the books are, in fact, real. While it does turn out that Gatsby lies about his past, his genuineness is hard to deny. In fact, this scene supports Nick's argument that "there was something gorgeous about [Gatsby], some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life." 

Overall, the owl-eyed man's admiration for Gatsby's books is important because it foreshadows two things to the reader: while Gatsby's story about his past might be fraudulent, his character is real.

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