What rumors have been told about Gatsby, and what does Nick think of Gatsby after meeting him?

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slcollins eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rumors about Gatsby’s true character and business ventures abound in The Great Gatsby: he killed a man, he is Kaiser Wilhelm’s nephew, he is a German spy. The incredulous nature of these rumors speaks to one point: No one really knows much of anything about the man who calls himself Jay Gatsby. When Nick first meets Gatsby at Gatsby’s own party, NIck is taken aback by Gatsby’s genuine smile. Nick follows up with a comment about Gatsby’s speech having an “elaborate formality…[that] just missed being absurd” and that he was “picking his words with care” (Chapter 3). Fitzgerald includes this observation to bring into question, once again, the mysterious nature of Jay Gatsby. Why might someone have to pick their words with care and speak with an absurd formality? Nick keeps this first impression in the back of his mind as he continues to converse with Gatsby and spend time with him on multiple occasions.  

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The Great Gatsby

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