Rumors About Gatsby

List all of the rumors about Gatsby mentioned in chapter four of The Great Gatsby.

Jay Gatsby is rumored to be a German spy, a relative of the Kaiser, a bootlegger, an Oxford man, a war hero, among other things. He is also rumored to have killed someone.

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At the beginning of chapter 4, Nick recalls some of the rumors that he overhears concerning Jay Gatsby's identity and occupation. Nick overhears some young ladies saying that Gatsby is a bootlegger, while other party guests insist that Gatsby is the nephew of Von Hindenburg. There is even a rumor that involves Gatsby killing a man who attempted to reveal Gatsby's relation to the German officer. Later on in the chapter, Gatsby picks Nick up and attempts to persuade him that he is an Oxford man who hails from a wealthy Midwest family. Whenever Nick asks where Gatsby grew up in the Midwest, Gatsby responds by saying, "San Francisco." However, Nick Carraway does not believe Gatsby's fabricated past and struggles to control his laughter as Gatsby continues to lie. Later on in the story, the audience learns about Gatsby's humble beginnings, and Tom Buchanan publicly reveals that Gatsby made his fortune as a bootlegger.

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I heard he killed a guy.

I heard he's a German spy.

No, he's not.  He's a relative of the Kaiser.

Everyone knows he's a bootlegger.

He's an Oggsford man.

He's a great war hero.


These, of course, are not the actual quotes, but they are the rumors that float throughout the novel, like the "rumors" of America itself:

It's the land of opportunity.

Land of the brave.

Land where my fathers died

Land of the pilgrims' pride.

All these conceptions and misconceptions show the promise and false promise of Gatsby and the America Dream.  In the end, they're all true--and false.  They're both enigmatic, paradoxes.

Nick even asks Gatsby about his past: What midwestern city are you from?  Gatsby answers, "San Francisco." Then, Gatsby:

"claims to have studied at Oxford and lived in all of the capitals of Europe; then he enlisted in the war effort, where he was rapidly promoted to major and decorated by every Allied government, including Montenegro. He pulls out a photograph of himself in Oxford cricket whites, as well as a medal awarded by the government of Montenegro, in order to corroborate his story."

One thing is for sure, Gatsby loves to wear white.


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melissa1106 | Student

Many rumors were told about Gatsby. One was that he was a cousin to Kaiser Wilhelm. Another rumor was that he was a great Oxford man. There was also a rumor that he had killed someone before. Someone at a party later also says that he was a german spy. The librarian in his house says that Gatsby does not actually exist.

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