What careless act happens at the end of the party in Chapter 3?

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snsuber eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 3 of The Great Gatsby, Nick (the narrator) attends his first party given by his neighbor, Jay Gastby. The incident of carelessness that occurs at the end of the evening involves drunken driving as the guests are leaving the party. Nick recounts that, as he is leaving the party, he sees a commotion fifty feet from the door where a car has been driven into a ditch "right side up but violently shorn of one wheel." The spectators assume that the man who first alights from the vehicle is the one who wrecked. He, in his drunken stupor, takes a few moments to explain to the crowd that he was not the driver. Once the true driver makes his way from the car, it is obvious that he should not have been driving as his first statement to the crowd is, "Wha's matter? Did we run outa gas?"

This example of recklessness stands out in the text because everyone involved in the situation is incapable of functioning responsibly. The driver is too drunk to even realize that his car is in a ditch and can't be moved. The passenger is too drunk to realize that he shouldn't have allowed the driver behind the wheel. The crowd is too drunk to reasonably explain the situation or discover how to resolve it. This situation foreshadows events that will occur later in the text revolving around irresponsibility and vehicles.