In The Great Gatsby, what is the meaning of the reference to "gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover" that precedes Chapter I?

2 Answers

mshurn's profile pic

Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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This introductory passage appears on the title page of the novel:

Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her;

If you can bounce high, bounce for her too,

Till she cry "Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover,

I must have you!"

The poem is then attributed to one "Thomas Parke D'Invilliers," who was not a real person, but was actually one of Fitzgerald's fictional characters in This Side of Paradise; thus, Fitzgerald himself wrote the lines that introduce his novel.

The lines relate connotatively to Gatsby's romantic pursuit of Daisy. In order to win her back, he amasses--and then very conspicuously displays--an enormous amount of wealth. He takes extraordinary measures to capture Daisy's attention and to draw her from East Egg into one of his dazzling parties. He spares no expense to overwhelm her with his glamorous estate and his many beautiful possessions. Gatsby wears the "gold hat" for Daisy, and he "bounces" very high to impress her so significantly that she will decide she must have him back.

kmj23's profile pic

kmj23 | (Level 2) Educator

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This reference is taken from the epigraph to The Great Gatsby which consists of four lines, purportedly written by Thomas Parke D'Invilliers. Although D'Invilliers is a product of the author's imagination, these lines are significant because they reveal much about the story which follows.

That the man is "gold-hatted," for example, implies that he is wealthy and accustomed to luxury. He is, therefore, very suggestive of Jay Gatsby, the title character of the story. Moreover, just like Gatsby, this man is seeking the love of a woman, represented in the story by Daisy Buchanan.

Thus, this reference is an allusion to Jay Gatsby and his numerous efforts to win back Daisy. In Gatsby's mind, if he can lure Daisy to one of his parties, he is certain that he can impress her enough that she will want to stay with him. He can, therefore, "bounce high," just like the man in D'Invilliers' lines.