What is Gatsby doing when Nick first sees him in The Great Gatsby?

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e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Nick first sees Gatsby after returning from a dinner party at the Buchanan house. The disillusionment he experienced there is contrasted with the vision of Gatsby, who stands on a balcony of his mansion, gazing across the bay in a romantic (or poetic) posture.

Returning to West Egg, Nick first sees Gatsby. As Nick is about to call to him, Gatsby stretches out both arms towards the water or the green dock light opposite; Nick is mystified.

At the dinner party, Nick had been rather shocked at the drama between Tom and Daisy. He did not expect the bitter and jaded people he met and who he once knew in much different circumstances. Sighting Gatsby in a romantic and perhaps innocent pose on his balcony, Nick encounters one of the novel's great divisions - the difference between the innocent dreamer and the embittered and hollow "real" world the dreamer aspires to enter.

Though Gatbsy falls and rises in Nick's view over the course of the novel, this initial vision of Gatbsy serves as an ultimate comment upon his character. Gatsby, at bottom, remains an innocent and ambitious dreamer.

mcrbus94's profile pic

mcrbus94 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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nick first sees Gatsby when he is on his balcony and nick is outside. he is seen to be looking at a green light accross the water which we later find out is the light on the pier/dock outside the home of the Buchanans where Daisy lives

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