When Nick asks Gatsby what part of the Middle West he is from, Gatsby replies, "San Francisco." What does Nick surmise from Gatsby's answer?

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In chapter four, Nick joins Gatsby for a ride into the city to have lunch. On their way to New York City, Gatsby tells Nick a fabricated story about his past, and Nick initially finds Gatsby's story to be ridiculous and rather amusing. After Gatsby mentions that he grew up in a wealthy family in the Midwest, he tells Nick that he followed in the footsteps of his ancestors and attended Oxford. Nick does not believe Gatsby and mentions that he finally understood why Jordan Baker thought Gatsby was lying when he claimed to be an Oxford man. When Nick asks Gatsby where he grew up in the Midwest, Gatsby replies, "San Francisco" (Fitzgerald, 70). Nick maintains his composure and continues to listen as Gatsby elaborates on the death of his family members. Shortly after Gatsby comments that he was born in San Francisco, which is not remotely close to the Midwest, Nick mentions that he thinks Gatsby is pulling his leg. Essentially, Nick surmises that Gatsby is not being honest with him and is simply repeating a fabricated story, which is exactly what is happening. Later on, Nick discovers that Jay Gatsby's real name is James Gatz, and he was raised in North Dakota.

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This conversation happens in Chapter 4 as Gatsby is telling Nick about his past.  There is a huge amount of controversy about this among scholars who study Fitzgerald and his writing.

Most of the stuff I have read argues that this is simply an error.  These scholars say that Fitzgerald made a lot of dumb mistakes like this.  They say that his editors usually caught them but that his editor was on vacation and this slipped by.

So I guess that I would say that Nick does not surmise anything because Fitzgerald did not mean this to be a mistake in Gatsby's story.  Nick does wonder if Gatsby is pulling his leg, but it's because Gatsby says his family is all dead, not because of the geographic thing.

“San Francisco.”

“I see.”

“My family all died and I came into a good deal of money.”

His voice was solemn, as if the memory of that sudden extinction of a clan still haunted him. For a moment I suspected that he was pulling my leg, but a glance at him convinced me otherwise.

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