Regarding Chapter 3, in what way are Nick and Gatsby similar at this point? Why are they paradoxical?Only chapter 3 based answers please provide a quote to explain answer

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luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One way in which Nick and Gatsby are alike in chapter 3 is that neither one is careless.  Jordan says to Nick, toward the end of the chapter, "I hate careless people.  That's why I like you."  Gatsby is very careful in how he presents himself.  He orchestrates his parties like he's conducting the Philharmonic.  He brings in lavish feasts with plenty of illegal alcohol.  He brings in people, too.  He does not drink because he wants to stay in control of everything.  Even his words are carefully planned.  This is emphasized by his affectation, "Old sport".  The two are different though, in the reason why each is careful.  Nick is careful because he cares about others and because he's honest.  He even concludes the chapter with the admitted realization of his one cardinal virtue - honesty - when he says, "I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known."  For Nick, being honest equates to carefulness because Nick does not like to lie to or to mislead people.  He is careful not to do either.  Gatsby, on the other hand, is careful to hide his true identity and motives.  His carefulness is required because of his lack of honesty.  He creates a false history and he does nothing to straighten out the rumors of his past.

droxonian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The lavishness of Gatsby's party and the nature of his spending in this chapter serves to express to the reader how very different his life is from that of Carraway, the narrator. However, in setting the scene, Carraway also reveals several aspects in which he and Gatsby are not dissimilar.

In describing how Gatsby had paid two hundred and sixty five dollars to replace the dress of a girl who had torn hers at one of his parties, it is said of Gatsby that he "doesn't want any trouble with anybody." This peaceable fear of confrontation and desire to blend in—ironically, from the lavish Gatsby—echoes Carraway's own desire to blend in with those around him, preferring to get "roaring drunk out of embarrassment" rather than go about the party without somebody to attach himself to.

Later, when Carraway first meets Gatsby, they discuss their mutual experience of fighting in the First World War, the "grey little villages in France" which they had both experienced. Carraway has assumed that any "young man of about [his] age" would be likely to have this shared life experience, and he is able to use it as a talking point even before he realizes who the other young man is.

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The Great Gatsby

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