I have to give a speech on this section of The Great Gatsby (Chapter 3, when Gatsby arrives).I'm analyzing a section when Gatsby comes in chapter 3 and reveals himself to Nick. I have to give a...

I have to give a speech on this section of The Great Gatsby (Chapter 3, when Gatsby arrives).

I'm analyzing a section when Gatsby comes in chapter 3 and reveals himself to Nick. I have to give a speech on it ... here's an example of what I have so far ...


“Precisely at that point it vanished — and I was looking at an elegant young rough-neck, a year or two over thirty, whose elaborate formality of speech just missed being absurd.”

This quote shows how fragile Gatsby’s mask is. Even though he tries so hard to maintain it, anyone can see right through it. This is especially true when dealing with the old rich. They can see right through his mask and know that he does not belong in their social class. They only use Gatsby for his parties and money. This is validated after Gatsby dies. No one except for a few of his friends show up to his funeral, showing the futility of his efforts.

As we can see later in the book, Tom is another example of someone who sees right through Gatsby’s mask. He knows that something is inherently false about him, but he can’t pinpoint it immediately. However, he takes steps to investigate and finally figures out his history. Indeed, he is not the perfect person that he appears to be, but instead has done some dirty things to gain his money – bootlegging and dealings with Wolfsheim, for instance.



Expert Answers
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It sounds like you have done a great job already! Yes, Chapter III is of course our - and Nick's - first introduction to Jay Gatsby, and it is key to realise how we have been prepared for his introduction by what others have said about him and the rumours surrounding his rise to wealth and fame. You have done a great job in identifying the "mask" that Gatsby puts on. Note too the use of unnatural phrases like "old sport" in his dialogue and also the way that Nick states:

Some time before he introduced himself I'd got a strong impression that he was picking his words with care.

It is also important to note that just a couple of pages after this introduction Gatsby is described as being on his own, isolated from his guests and the jazz age that he is so eager to be a part of. It appears he doesn't "fit" in so many ways. And yet what concerns me in your analysis is that it appears to focus too much on the negative aspects of Gatsby. Let us also remember that in the same paragraph that your quote is taken from, Nick tells us something very important about Gatsby:

He smiled understandingly - much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced - or seemed to face - the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favour. It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, 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.

There is certainly more to Gatsby's character than just his "mask" of trying to fit in to the rich, wealthy scene of his times, and with this description we are given an insight into his genuine character that conveys to us just what an amazing kind of man Gatsby was - which of course emphasises the tragedy of this story as Gatsby feels that he has to be something he is not to gain the love of his life.

echoyjeff222 | Student

Thanks for your response -- I actually addressed some of those issues in my other responses that I didn't have room to post. I added some of the things you suggested, though. Thanks!

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The Great Gatsby

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