At the beginning of Chapter 3, Nick Carraway explains how he once recorded the names of Gatsby’s party guests on “the empty spaces of a time-table”. At first glance, the list seems rather boring, redundant and meaningless. However, when you consider the guest list in relation to thematic ideas of wealth, social status and corruption, it might begin to make more sense.
Clearly, the guests represent the wealthy and respectable class since Fitzgerald drops brief hints about several of the guests’ educational or occupational backgrounds. Interestingly, though, nearly every time Fitzgerald goes into any length to describe a particular guest, the description reveals a negative detail (“drowned last summer”, “flipped up their noses”, “hair turned…cotton-white”, “had a fight with a bum”, et al). These pessimistic descriptions, then, underscore Fitzgerald’s dismay with the corrupt nature of the wealthy and, as a result, help prove that the American Dream has become distorted.