The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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What contradictions are used in chapter 3 in The Great Gatsby?

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In chapter 3, the guests at Gatsby’s party speculate as to who they think Gatsby might be. He is a mysterious character, and nobody really seems to know much about him at all. Everyone seems to have a different story, and the mystery is only compounded when these stories contradict one another. For example, one of his guests asserts that Gatsby “grew up . . . in Germany,” whereas another insists, “it couldn’t be . . . because he was in the American army during the war.”

There are other contradictions in this chapter within Fitzgerald’s descriptions of the guests at the party. He describes, for example, the “happy vacuous bursts of laughter” of the guests. It can’t be that laughter is at once genuinely happy and also vacuous, but this contradiction alludes to the superficial character of Gatsby’s guests. Earlier in the chapter, Nick observes that these guests are “agonizingly aware of the easy money in the vicinity.” They are at Gatsby’s party for the connections...

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