In chapter 3, what does Nick discover about Jordan Baker's character? How does he feel about her?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

After hanging out with Jordan at Gatsby's party, Nick doesn't see Jordan again for some time. Eventually their paths cross again mid-summer, and he enjoys being seen with her because she is a famous golfer and he gets to soak up that fame simply by being around her. However, he overhears Jordan lying about a car she's borrowed, having left the top down in the rain and then denying it. He recalls that she was once in the news for dishonesty in golfing. Nick says the incident approached the quality of scandalous as two people accused Jordan of moving her ball from a particularly poor spot during a tournament.

Nick isn't all that bothered by the recollection and says that dishonesty in women is "a thing you never blame deeply," a rather sexist generalization. As Jordan drives him around, she has a close call and almost hits a man but tells Nick that she doesn't have to be careful—she relies on other people to be careful enough to stay out of her way.

Jordan is a tease, and Nick is willingly along for the ride. She tells him that she likes him, and Nick feels their "relations" shift in the comment. Although Nick claims at the end of the chapter to be one of the few honest people he has ever known, he certainly doesn't seem to mind surrounding himself with people of dishonest character, such as Jordan.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In chapter three of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great GatsbyNick discovers that Jordan Baker is "incurably dishonest." This is his conclusion based on evidence from her past as well as his own observations, but he is not remarkably concerned about it. He enjoys her company, and thinks at times he may love her.

When he first meets Jordan Baker, Nick learns of her cool detachment and impersonal nature. He also learns that she is a gossip, as she shushes him in order to hear a conversation between Tom and his mistress. She also lets Nick in on the story of Tom's affair.

Jordan is a typical example of the flapper culture. Flappers rejected the strict dress and behavioral codes of the Victorian era. They were coming of age during wartime, and they had a live-for-today philosophy of life. Many flappers smoked, drank, and embraced their sexuality.

In chapter three, Nick's relationship with Jordan progresses. They spend an evening together at Gatsby's party. It is hard to tell at that point if the relationship progresses because of their mutual affection or because of the influence of alcohol and their shared interest in the mysterious Gatsby. Later in the chapter, Nick explains that he loses sight of Jordan for a while, but then their relationship is rekindled. He explains that he isn't exactly in love with her, but feels a "tender curiosity" toward her. Shortly after that, he reveals what he discovers about her, which is her dishonesty. The textual evidence is cited below.

"Jordan Baker instinctively avoided clever shrewd men and now I saw that this was because she felt safer on a plane where any divergence from a code would be thought impossible. She was incurably dishonest. She wasn’t able to endure being at a disadvantage, and given this unwillingness I suppose she had begun dealing in subterfuges when she was very young in order to keep that cool, insolent smile turned to the world and yet satisfy the demands of her hard jaunty body. It made no difference to me. Dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply—I was casually sorry, and then I forgot. It was on that same house party that we had a curious conversation about driving a car. It started because she passed so close to some workmen that our fender flicked a button on one man’s coat."

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

At this point in the work, Nick begins to discover more about Jordan, her disposition, and her emotional state.  Nick begins to understand more about Jordan and how she possess a dispassionate and dismissive emotional temperament.  It represents an early time in the work where Nick begins to recognize the phoniness and inauthenticity of the social setting that immerses all of the primary characters.  Notice the way Nick describes how Jordan touches his hand:  "She touched my hand impersonally, as a promise she'd take care of me in a minute."  It is interesting to sense such a hint about Jordan through Nick as an almost emotional foreshadowing of what is to come.  As she holds his hand, Jordan carries on an entire conversation about the golf tournament and dyed hair color, while keeping Nick waiting.  This is rather powerful given how she will appear later in the novel.  As they gossip about Gatsby and "how he killed a man," the reader perceives what Nick understands later on:  Jordan is a gossip, a part of the flapper culture whose primary motivation is the next party, the next item of salacious news, and whose state of being is predicated upon using individuals as means to ends and not ends in of themselves.  Throughout the party interaction, Fitzgerald shows Jordan to be a social butterfly, who is incapabale or unwilling to display any real emotions or valid sense of character.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial