What is the purpose of Jordan Baker in "The Great Gatsby"? I'm doing an essay on the presentation of women in The Great Gatsby, and I can't decide on Jordan's purpose in the novel Is it...

What is the purpose of Jordan Baker in "The Great Gatsby"?

I'm doing an essay on the presentation of women in The Great Gatsby, and I can't decide on Jordan's purpose in the novel

Is it to highlight Nick's lonliness? Or is her corrupt attitude (cheating in golf) more important? Or is she simply a device used to tell Gatsby's story in Chapter 4?

Please help and feel free to tell me I'm completely wrong!


Expert Answers
luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jordan serves multiple purposes as you suggest.  She is there to serve as a love interest for Nick and she is there to tell Nick the story of Jay Gatsby.  She is also there, though, to further Fitzgerald's theme of the decline of morality leading to the corruption of the American Dream.  Jordan Baker comes from a wealthy family and like Daisy, she is spoiled.  She is also a professional golfer and Nick remembers he'd heard about her having been suspected of cheating at one time.  Fitzgerald wants the reader to see that Jordan is so used to having her way, that she'll cheat to continue having her way.  The manner in which she so casually and quickly picks up with Nick also shows that she is somewhat loose morally.  She smokes and drinks, which was considered rather risque behavior for the early 1920's.  An even greater indication though of her lack of morality and her selfishness is when Nick comments to her that she is a bad driver.  She says that she doesn't care, the other drivers can look out for her because it takes two to make an accident.  Obviously she believes that it is fine for her to drive however she wants and that it is the repsonsibility of other drivers to watch out for her. 

kwaters3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In addition to the other reasons already listed, Jordon Baker serves as a vital decision that Nick must make.  While she is a temptation for him, and he chooses to not be associated with Jordon, Nick has the constant temptation of loose morality in front of him.  Without this temptation and decision in front of him, there is not as clear a line for Nick to draw concerning what he will and will not accept as moral or right.  The fact that temptation presents itself as a woman here, makes the decision even harder for Nick to make, than had it simply been in the form of a man (as in Gatsby).  Nick's decisions to not completely cut himself from such temptations, but instead to let them linger and go unaddressed at times shows that his resolve is not so steadfast.

gbeatty eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You've named a number of Jordan's purposes. I'm going to add another one. In a small way, she is like Gatsby. She cheated to be who she is, and so does he. This tells us a huge amount about Nick, and that's one of her purposes. Nick comes off as a nice guy and even a fundamentally honest guy most of the time. However, if you look at his willingness to be friends with Gatsby, and to be involved with Jordan Baker, who is also dishonest, you start getting a sense that his interior character is flawed—is attracted to the dark and dishonest, if you will. Jordan shows that more clearly than Gatsby, in part because Nick is willing to get mad at her.

rissaroo | Student

Jordan baker is used to show corruption on a sports level.

She cheated in golf, which is supposed to be the honest sport. players are trusted with there scores. by moving her ball.


like meyer wolfsheim, he rigged the world series.

the dream was manipulated and twisted

kwinkler | Student

There also critics who point to Nik's failed relationship with Jordan as further evidence of his homoerotic tendencies (the others being his infatuation with GAtsby and, particulary, his interlude with McKee). One article suggests that the only reason he is attracted to Jordan is because she is a masculine woman (go back and look at how she is described -- including her unfeminine habits of drinking ad smoking -- and you will see this is true; remember the moustache of persperation?). 

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The Great Gatsby

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