In The Great Gatsby, what is ironic about Dan Cody?

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Jay Gatsby's relationship with Dan Cody is somewhat ironic. Dan takes on the role of mentor to the young man, inducting him into the glamorous, opulent world of the rich and privileged. Yet it turns out that Dan's not the best role model in this regard. For one thing,...

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Jay Gatsby's relationship with Dan Cody is somewhat ironic. Dan takes on the role of mentor to the young man, inducting him into the glamorous, opulent world of the rich and privileged. Yet it turns out that Dan's not the best role model in this regard. For one thing, he too hails from a relatively humble background; he's new money, not old. But Jay's too young and too naive to know any better. He's never met anyone like Dan before and so naturally assumes that he's the real deal, an authentic blue-blood.

So although Jay does indeed learn a lot from Dan Cody about what it means to be rich, he doesn't learn the crucial difference between old money and new. It is this gap in his education that will come back to haunt him later on when he embarks upon his doomed pursuit of Daisy Buchanan.

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In Chapter Five Nick Carraway narrates the early history of Jay Gatsby, né Jay Gatz. For less than two years, Jay Gatz worked as a clam digger and salmon fisherman, or in any other way that would yield him food and shelter. He wandered through women and dreamt of becoming rich until one day Dan Cody's yacht dropped anchor "over the most insidious flat on Lake Superior." So, when Jay, who is yet searching for an occupation, goes over to the yacht in order to tell Cody and his crew that he has anchored in the shallows which could prove dangerous, it is ironic--a contrast between what is expected and what actually happens--that he actually finds a job with Cody. Nick states,

He [Cody] had been coasting along all too hospitable shores for five years when he turned up as James Gatz's destiny in Little Girl Bay.

This chance meeting of Jay Gatz with the millionaire Dan Cody initiates the metamorphasized Jay Gatsby into the underworld.

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