What phrase does Gatsby repeatedly use to address Nick and others?

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dstuva's profile pic

Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Two or three effects arise from Gatsby's use of the words, "old sport," in The Great Gatsby." 

In addition to Gatsby possibly attempting to appear British or high class, Gatsby also appears to use the phrase to endear himself to others.  It is a phrase that Gatsby uses to show acceptance of others.  It shows he accepts others.

At the same time, however, the words, "old sport," probably reflect Gatsby's inneptness at social contact.  The words can be a bit annoying.  He uses it for people that consider themselves his friends, but he also uses it for people who do not consider themselves his friend--most notably, Tom, who throws it back in his face.  It seems to be something Gatsby says that is awkward and overused, and he uses it with mixed success.

Finally, the words suggest a lack of sincerity on Gatsby's part.  And this perception of the words is accurate.  When it comes to anyone accept Daisy, and possibly Nick, Gatsby is insincere in his friendship.  He is obsessed and consumed by his illusion of Daisy and of their relationship.  And he cares little for anything else.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In this book, you can see that Jay Gatsby uses one phrase over and over when he is talking to people.  It is the only phrase that he uses much so you can't really miss it.

The phrase that he uses all the time is "old sport."  He says that he picked this phrase up while he was in England (it's something that high class English people call each other).  He says that he was in Oxford for a while.  By using this phrase, Gatsby is trying to show that he is pretty high class himself.

bravesgirl2011's profile pic

bravesgirl2011 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

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When Gatsby adresses people he calls them "old sport" never by their name only Daisy because he doesn't really care about anyone elses name except for Daisy.If you really ready the book you will hear him adress Daisy by her name everyone is "old sport".

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