How does Fitzgerald shape the reader's expectations of Gatsby in the opening of the novel?

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the first chapter of The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald shapes the reader's expectations of Gatsby in a number of ways. Firstly, in the exposition, Fitzgerald portrays Gatsby as a man who is very different from other people in the East. Nick says, for example, that there is something "gorgeous" about him, implying that Gatsby is special and unlike the other characters in the book.

Secondly, Fitzgerald portrays Gatsby as a victim, claiming that he was "preyed" upon by "foul dust" which crushed his dreams. By doing this, Fitzgerald not only piques the reader's interest but also foreshadows Gatsby's plan to win back Daisy Buchanan.

Finally, when Nick meets Jordan, she asks whether he knows Gatsby. By doing this, Fitzgerald creates an air of mystery around him. Gatsby becomes a sort of celebrity in the reader's mind, even though the reader has no direct knowledge about him. This is also effective in creating suspense ahead of Gatsby's first appearance in the book.

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The Great Gatsby

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