Who is Ewing Klipspringer in The Great Gatsby?

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According to Gatsby, Ewing Klipspringer is a distant relative of a famous composer, although Nick is dubious about the authenticity of this claim. Klipspringer essentially shacks up in Gatsby’s mansion on a quasi-permanent basis, moving into a guest room and serving as Gatsby’s personal pianist on occasion, such as...

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According to Gatsby, Ewing Klipspringer is a distant relative of a famous composer, although Nick is dubious about the authenticity of this claim. Klipspringer essentially shacks up in Gatsby’s mansion on a quasi-permanent basis, moving into a guest room and serving as Gatsby’s personal pianist on occasion, such as Gatsby’s reunion with Daisy in Chapter Five.

However, I think the most important detail about Klipspringer comes near the end of the novel, as Nick attempts to notify people of Gatsby’s funeral arrangements. Nick unexpectedly receives a phone call from Klipspringer to Gatsby’s home during this time; at first, Nick is delighted that someone has reached out to ask about the funeral. However, it becomes clear to Nick over the course of their brief conversation that Klipspringer does not care about Gatsby nor plans to attend the man’s funeral.

When Nick presses Klipspringer to say he’ll be there, the pianist remarks that he is obligated to attend a picnic of sorts with the people with whom he now resides and that the only reason he called was to see if someone could send over his tennis shoes.

Hanging up before Klipspringer has the chance to finish saying the address, Nick realizes that Klipspringer and others like him only took advantage of Gatsby’s kindness and hospitality. People who attended his parties, and even one for whom Gatsby had provided lodging, were nothing but leeches enjoying the free booze and fun. This realization sparks Nick’s epiphany about the soulless character of the East, as it soon becomes “haunted” for him.

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Ewing Klipspringer is a permanent house guest in Gatsby's mansion. Nick describes him as:

...an embarrassed, slightly worn young man, with shell-rimmed glasses and scanty blond hair. He was now decently clothed in a sport shirt, open at the neck, sneakers and duck trousers of a nebulous hue.

Gatsby summons Klipspringer ostensibly to play the piano for them, and he plays the popular 1920's tune "Ain't We Got Fun?" But the real function of this minor character is to serve as a sort of chaperone.

Nick is going to leave Gatsby and Daisy alone at the end of Chapter V. Nick was Daisy's escort up to that point. Otherwise it would have been improper, by the standards of the time, to leave Daisy alone like that. It would have been too obvious why Gatsby had invited them over and what was going to happen. But with Klipspringer present, Daisy and Gatsby are not quite alone, and Nick can make his departure (a departure which Daisy and Gatsby obviously want) without seeming to abandon his role as escort. This is a sensitive moment because Nick is so conspicuously being placed in the role of pander, go-between, entremetteur.

It is noteworthy that, although there are two affairs going on throughout the novel, there is never any explicit description of physical contact (except, of course, when Tom breaks Myrtle's nose). The end of Chapter V is like one of those "fade outs" Hollywood used to employ in the days when the movie censors would not permit anything more than kissing on the screen. After Klipspringer appears and starts playing the piano, Nick politely fades out as gracefully as possible under the circumstances.

They had forgotten me, but Daisy glanced up and held out her hand. Gatsby didn't know me now at all. I looked once more at them and they looked back at me, remotely possessed by intense life. Then I went out of the room and down the marble steps into the rain, leaving them there together.

What happens after that is left to the reader's imagination.

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