Hello! I'd like to know the meaning of "jauntiness" and "jauntily" in all these excerpts about Jordan Baker from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. T1 It was dark now and as we dipped under...

Hello! I'd like to know the meaning of "jauntiness" and "jauntily" in all these excerpts about Jordan Baker from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. T
It was dark now and as we dipped under a little bridge I put my arm around Jordan’s golden shoulder and drew her toward me and asked her to dinner. Suddenly I wasn’t thinking of Daisy and Gatsby any more but of this clean, hard, limited person, who dealt in universal scepticism and who leaned back jauntily just within the circle of my arm. 

2 She got up slowly, raising her eyebrows at me in astonishment, and followed the butler toward the house. I noticed that she wore her evening dress, all her dresses, like sports clothes—there was a jauntiness about her movements as if she had first learned to walk upon golf courses on clean, crisp mornings.

 She was dressed to play golf and I remember thinking she looked like a good illustration, her chin raised a little jauntily, her hair the color of an autumn leaf, her face the same brown tint as the fingerless glove on her knee.


Thank you.

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because he has been termed a lyric Romanticist and because The Great Gatsby is replete with imagery, poetic language, and symbolism, it is important to consider the connotations of words that Fitzgerald employs, especially regarding his characters.  Therefore, while the word jauntily denotes a sprightly, athletic movement, the reader may well wish to consider Jordan's added description of "universal skepticism" in defining this word as well as the later allusions to her as "a bad driver," her words for a liar and insincere person, along with Nick's description of her, Daisy. and Tom as "careless people."

Indeed, this "limited person," Jordan, is jaunty, or sportive, in her attitudes as people are mere players in a game of life (Her face matches the golf glove). And, then, she moves on to the next game. In Chapter Nine, her superficiality and carelessness is illustrated in Nick's observations about his last visit to Jordan Baker when he talks "over and around" what has occurred to them together. Jordan lies perfectly still, just listening as she sits in a large chair:

She was dressed to play golf...her chin raised a little, jautily...her face the same brown tint as the fingerless glove on her knee....When I finished, she told me without comment that she was engaged to another man.

She tells Nick, "I don't give a damn about you now," but adds that she has made a wrong guess about him, not realizing that he, too, was "a bad driver." Heretofore, she has viewed all of life "jauntily," as mere sport, to be played as one wishes, even by cheating.

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The term jaunty refers to an athletic energy of movement or posture. Jordan Baker is an athlete and is full of a certain kind of energy, which attracts Nick.

We can infer a degree of strength, boldness, and challenge in the assessment of this term as well. Even as Nick has his arm around her, Jordan is assertive and individual. She accepts his affections, but remains somehow beyond his reach. 

She also is a person of great self-restraint and, we might say, repression. This combination of traits makes Jordan a somewhat complex figure. She is both restrained and physically exuberant. There is an energy that she cannot or does not hide. This is part of what makes her elusive, socially and romantically.

This energy is her "jauntiness".

Merriam-Webster offers these terms as synonyms for jaunty: "energetic", "vital", and "active". 

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The Great Gatsby

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