Why does Jordan tell Nick,"Well, I met another bad driver, didn't I?"

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When toward the end of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Jordan Baker says to Nick, “Well, I met another bad driver, didn’t I,” she is referring not to driving but to the poor choice she made in being drawn to Nick. In the novel’s final chapter, Nick is reflecting on his days in New York and his relationships to Tom and Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Baker, and Jay Gatsby. His relationship with Jordan has ended on a sour note, as Nick breaks up with her over the telephone. He approaches Jordan one day before he departs New York and engages her in conversation. It is during this conversation that Jordan references an earlier discussion the two had (in chapter 3) when Jordan barely avoids hitting some workmen while driving erratically. In the following exchange from that earlier chapter, Jordan provides a clue to the comments she will make in the novel’s closing passages:

"You’re a rotten driver,” I protested. “Either you ought to be more careful, or you oughtn’t to drive at all.”

“I am careful.”

“No, you’re not.”

“Well, other people are,” she said lightly.

“What’s that got to do with it?”

“They’ll keep out of my way,” she insisted. “It takes two to make an accident.”

“Suppose you met somebody just as careless as yourself.”

“I hope I never will,” she answered. “I hate careless people. That’s why I like you.”

So, in chapter 9, when Jordan remarks that she met another bad driver, she is referencing what she considers her misjudgment with respect to Nick:

“Oh, and do you remember," she added, ”a conversation we had once about driving a car?”

“Why—not exactly.”

“You said a bad driver was only safe until she met another bad driver? Well, I met another bad driver, didn’t I? I mean it was careless of me to make such a wrong guess. I thought you were rather an honest, straightforward person.”

Jordan had suggested earlier in the novel that it takes two careless people to make a catastrophe and that Nick was not careless. She now thinks otherwise of the once-innocent boy from the Midwest who has dumped this beautiful, wealthy woman.

podunc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jordan and Nick first discuss Jordan's careless driving in chapter three when Nick tells her, "Either you ought to be more careful or you oughtn't to drive at all." Jordan's response is that she is safe because other drivers are careful and "it takes two to make an accident."

Later, in chapter nine after the death of Gatsby, Nick breaks off his relationship with Jordan. Jordan compares Nick's treatment of her to being "a bad driver" and admits that she thought Nick was "an honest, straightforward person." Though Jordan herself is "incurably dishonest" in their relationship, she is angered when she feels that Nick has been dishonest also. She is, symbolically, a "bad driver" who has just encountered another "bad driver" on the road of love.

melissa1106 | Student

Jordan believes that she has encountered another bad driver because nick dumps her without any warning. He calls her out of the blue and breaks up with her. She thought that nick was very cautious but that call angers her and she believe she now has encountered a bad driver in her life.

ckdumas | Student

Jordan thinks Nick as careless as she is for starting a relationship and then breaking it off without warning.  She doesn't see that her behavior is the reason that Nick doesn't want to spend any more time with her but assumes he is acting as reckless as the rest of her crowd.

Fitzgerald uses this to reinforce the lack of personal responsibility motif of each of the characters in Daisy's circle.

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The Great Gatsby

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