The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Who is Owl Eyes? What surprises him about Gatsby's library? 

Expert Answers info

David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2017

write10,812 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

"Owl Eyes" is the name given to a strange little man who pops up as a guest at one of Gatsby's regular parties. Like most of these guests, he doesn't know Gatsby and Gatsby doesn't know him; he's just another freeloader who turns up to help himself to Gatsby's free food and booze.

While most of the other guests are socializing, Owl Eyes has a good look around Gatsby's extensive and expensive library. He's astonished to discover that the books in the library are all real, even though it's patently obvious that Gatsby hasn't actually read any of them.

Owl Eyes's perceptiveness indicates that he was on to Gatsby from the start and that Gatsby is presumed to be someone he isn't. Nevertheless, Owl Eyes can't help but harbor a sneaking admiration for this talented showman, this David Belasco of West Egg.

Old Owl Eyes clearly isn't fooled by his host's elaborate facade of worldly sophistication. But then that's not surprising when one considers that, like the eyes of T. J. Eckleburg, he sees everything. Nothing escapes this man's attention. He comes much nearer to understanding the mystery that is Jay Gatsby than any of the other party guests. He recognizes that Gatsby is someone desperately keen to project a certain image to the outside world: an image of wealth and sophistication. He doesn't quite know why he feels the need to do this, but in any case, he doesn't seem to care. Owl Eyes is more than happy to sit back and enjoy the show. A little too much, perhaps, as his subsequent drink driving accident testifies.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Carter Westfall eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

bookB.A. from University of the Western Cape, South Africa

calendarEducator since 2014

write1,246 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Owl Eyes was obviously, invited or uninvited, one of Gatsby's guests at one of the ostentatious parties he had at his mansion as part of an attempt to draw Daisy Buchanan nearer. In chapter three, Nick and Jordan Baker were attending one of these to-do affairs and wandered into Jay's 'high Gothic' library where they met this drunk, stout, middle-aged man who was wearing an enormous pair of owl-eyed spectacles, hence Nick's mocking pseudonym for him.

Nick only uses the pseudonym later in his narrative when he mentions an incident when he left the party. On his way out he discovered the man in a car which had had an accident. The car was a wreck and Owl Eyes was the one who stepped out of it, claiming that he did not know what happened, since he had not been the one driving. 

The man is mentioned again in the final chapter. He was one of only a few who came to attend Jay's funeral. Nick mentions the following about him:

It was the man with owl-eyed glasses whom I had found marvelling over Gatsby’s books in the library one night three months before.

I’d never seen him since then. I don’t know how he knew about the funeral, or even his name. 

The fact that Nick had three separate encounters with Owl Eyes somehow makes him significant. Firstly, he showed remarkable insight when he spoke about Jay and his books. He intuitively recognized that the books were there only for show but that Jay had gone a step further to enhance the illusion, he used real books. Owl...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 1,062 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Thomas Mccord eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write2,304 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial