What is significant about the party guests?

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The people at Gatsby's parties not only do not actually know Gatsby, but they also gossip about him incessantly. Furthermore, most people were not actually invited to the parties at all but were only brought by someone else or came because they heard about Gatsby's gatherings (and the alcohol served there). One man, who Nick begins to refer to as "owl eyes," is camped out in Gatsby's library, quite drunk, marveling over the fact that all of Gatsby's books are actually real (rather than painted cardboard). He tells Nick that he "was brought. Most people were brought." The crowd seems off, somehow. Nick says that he sees Gatsby's guests dancing in the garden, "old men pushing young girls backward in eternal graceless circles, superior couples holding each other tortuously, fashionably and keeping in the corners [. . .]." This is hardly a joyous or light-hearted description. This is supposed to be a fun party, and yet Nick describes the dancing as "eternal" and "graceless," and other couples seems tortured by their dancing; none of this sounds positive.

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Gatsby invites everyone to his parties in the hopes that Daisy Buchanan will one day cross his threshold. As a result, he gets guests from anywhere and everywhere. Significantly, most of them have never met him and might not even be able to recognize Gatsby. This leads to every kind of rumor about who Gatsby is, what he might have done (such as murder a man), and how he became so wealthy.

The great crush of party guests give the parties their distinct feel. As Jordan says to Nick about Gatsby's wild evenings:

I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.

Because most people don't know each other, those who do can seal themselves off.

It's also significant that the guests, as Gatsby finds out when Daisy and Tom do finally attend one of the parties, aren't from the right social class. They might include famous actresses and directors, but people from Tom and Daisy's exclusive world don't attend parties like these with the riffraff. Therefore, knowing Daisy is displeased, Gatsby ends them.

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In Chapter IV, Nick lists the names of various guests from East Egg and West Egg that he observed at Gatsby’s parties during the summer of 1922. The list is remarkable in its content and implications, a colorful catalog through which Fitzgerald satirizes the upper class while simultaneously clarifying, without explicitly explaining, the social distinctions developing in American society during the Roaring Twenties. The names and their connotations effectively contrast East Egg, the bastion of old money, with West Egg, the home of the up-and-comers who are making money hand over fist in the new decade.

The guests from East Egg bear names that suggest generations of staid Yankee tradition and the heritage of the antebellum South; the names of guests from West Egg are primarily those of European immigrants of various ethnicity and occupations. The contrast emphasizes the accelerating social divide in the country. At Gatsby’s parties, the Chester Beckers, the Leeches, the Ripley Snells, and Dr. Webster Civet find themselves in the company of the Poles, the Mulreadys, the Bembergs, Don S. Schwartze, and a promoter named Da Fontano. Polishing off the list of East Eggers are Stonewall Jackson Abrams of Georgia and Mrs. Ulysses Swett.

Although the East Eggers and the West Eggers occupy the same general territory in Gatsby’s gardens, the social barrier between them remains inviolate. The Blackbuck clan, “who always gathered in a corner and flipped up their noses like goats,” would find no common ground with James B. (“Rotgut”) Ferret, nor would they want to. Guests from West Egg, unrestrained by social convention and free of the ingrained attitudes and behaviors bred into them by wealthy American ancestors, seem to have a much better time at Gatsby’s riotous extravaganzas, although several of the East Egg contingent are not immune to bad behavior either.

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