What does the owl-eyed man in the library find extroadinary about Gatsby's library?

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pirateteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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In chapter three of The Great Gatsby, Nick is incited to one of Gatsby's famous parties.  There he is brought up to meet Gatsby in his library.  Before he does, he meets a character whom he calls Owl Eyes, because he is a short, chubby man with glasses which make him resemble an owl.  In the library, Owl Eyes is impressed by the fact that Gatsby's books are real and not card board cut outs.  He calls out to Nick to inspect their validity for himself:

“Absolutely real — have pages and everything. I thought they’d be a nice durable cardboard. Matter of fact, they’re absolutely real. Pages and — Here! Lemme show you.”

The books show the importance of appearances to Gatsby and set up the theme of reality versus appearance.  During this time it was common practice for people to have cardboard (or fake) books in their homes, but Gatsby, attempting to prove he is better than that, has his library filled with these books which are made of paper so that to the touch they appear real.  However, just like Gatsby himself, a closer inspection proves that the paper has not been cut, so the books are impossible to read.  Even though Gatsby seems genuine on the surface, a closer look will show he too is not what he appears to be.

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