In The Great Gatsby, why does Nick have to restrain his laughter when Gatsby says the following in chapter 4? He is "trying to forget something very sad that happened to me a long time ago."

Nick has to restrain his laughter in The Great Gatsby because Gatsby's fabricated life story is so ridiculous and outrageous that he finds it hilarious. Gatsby offers a conflicting story by claiming that he was educated at Oxford and grew up in San Francisco, which he believes is in the Midwest. Nick recognizes that Gatsby's story is absurd and struggles to suppress his laughter.

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In chapter 4, Jay Gatsby invites Nick out to lunch in the city. On their way, Gatsby randomly asks Nick his opinion of him and proceeds to tell Nick a fabricated version of his background. Gatsby claims that he doesn't want Nick to get the wrong impression of him by listening to the false rumors and mentions that he hails from an extremely wealthy family in the Midwest. According to Gatsby, he is the only surviving member of his family and attended Oxford, which was the same university all of his ancestors attended. Nick does not believe Gatsby and politely asks what part of the Midwest he grew up. Gatsby responds by saying he grew up in San Francisco, which is not remotely close to the Midwest, and Nick actually thinks he is pulling his leg.

Gatsby then mentions that he lived "like a young rajah," hunting big game and collecting jewels "in all the capitals of Europe." Nick finds Gatsby's fabricated background story so ridiculous that he struggles to suppress his "incredulous laughter." It...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on May 27, 2020