How does Fitzgerald introduce the theme of gesture or superficially in The Great Gatsby?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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An excellent example of this occurs in Chapter VI when Tom Buchanan, a man whose name is Sloane, and an unidentified woman drop in at Gatsby's house one Sunday afternoon. All are on horseback. Nick is visiting Gatsby at the time. Gatsby acts as a gracious host, inviting the three to have drinks. The woman is friendly, but Sloane is not. The woman invites Nick and Gatsby to dinner. Sloane stands up to leave. It is obvious to Nick that Sloane does not want them to come; Nick says he can't come. When she then invites Gatsby alone, Sloane whispers in her ear. Gatsby does not pick up on the social signals flying all around him. He accepts and leaves the room to make arrangements to follow them in his car. Tom then says to Nick, "My God, I believe the man's coming . . . . Doesn't he know she doesn't want him?"  Sloane and the woman leave quickly before Gatsby can join them. The dinner invitation to Gatsby was a superficial gesture, as superficial as the woman's earlier statement that they would all come to Gatsby's next party. Gatsby, however, was too naive to understand this kind of behavior in "sophisticated" society.

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