In The Great Gatsby, what are some quotes about the lavish parties that he throws?

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter three, Nick, by invitation, attends his first of the grand parties thrown by Gatsby at his mansion. Here, Nick captures the intoxicating excitement and opulence of these over-the-top affairs, to which it seems the whole world has rushed to attend. He describes the sensuous aspects of his first experience of a Gatsby party in great detail. Here is one example of the lavish description:

On buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors d’oeuvre, spiced baked hams crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold. In the main hall a bar with a real brass rail was set up, and stocked with gins and liquors and with cordials so long forgotten that most of his female guests were too young to know one from another.

Nick captures the way the dizzying excitement and energy grow as the evening progresses into night. People drink freely, becoming more and more exuberant:

There was dancing now on the canvas 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—and a great number of single girls dancing individualistically or relieving the orchestra for a moment of the burden of the banjo or the traps. By midnight the hilarity had increased.

However, later in the novel, when the upper-class Daisy and Tom attend one of Gatsby's parties for the first time, the description becomes, at least in spots, more static, reflecting Daisy's disapproval of the riffraff, and foreshadowing, with the word "ghost," Gatsby's end:

Gatsby indicated a gorgeous, scarcely human orchid of a woman who sat in state under a white plum tree. Tom and Daisy stared, with that peculiarly unreal feeling that accompanies the recognition of a hitherto ghostly celebrity of the movies.

Nick registers Daisy's negative reaction to this party, so different from the open-minded eyes through which he had viewed his first Gatsby party. Daisy can only see it through the eyes of class and understand it as a place that invites the riff-raff to congregate:

She was appalled by West Egg, this unprecedented ‘place’ that Broadway had begotten upon a Long Island fishing village—appalled by its raw vigor that chafed under the old euphemisms and by the too obtrusive fate that herded its inhabitants along a short cut from nothing to nothing.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A great chapter for descriptions of the kind of parties that Gatsby throws is chapter 3. On the one hand this account presents us with the social elite of the day who frequent his parties, but on the other hand, the behaviour of these people is characterised in terms of their vulgarity. At one stage, Nick comments that the guests conduct themselves "according to the rules of behaviour associated with an amusement park." This can be viewed as another paradox or disparity in the novel relating to the gap between pretension and reality.

However, at first, until Nick actually attends one of these parties, he is attracted by the sights and sounds:

In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.

Note the attractive onomatopoeia in "whisperings." Nick observes what goes on like an outsider, looking in and attracted to what he sees, even though a discordant note is perhaps set at the end of the first paragraph with a description of the work that is needed to be done to repair the "ravages of the night before" on Mondays.

However, the bright lights and glitter seems to overwhelm Nick in one sense. Consider the following description:

The lights grow brighter as the earth lurches away from the sun, and now the orchestra is playing yellow cocktail music, and the opera of voices pitches a key higher. Laughter is easier minute by minute, spilled with prodigality, tipped out at a cheerful word. The groups change more swiftly, swell with new arrivals, dissolve and form in the same breath; already there are wanderers, confident girls who weave here and there among the stouter and the more stable, become for a sharp, joyous moment the centre of a group, and then, excited with triumph, glide on through the sea-change of faces and voices an colour under the constantly changing light.

It is clear that Gatbsy's parties are immense, lavish affairs, with no expense spared. They are deliberately designed to attract the social elite, and yet interestingly, Gatsby remains an observer of the action, rarely participating in the raucous "prodigality" that is described.

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The Great Gatsby

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