In "The Great Gatsby",why is Nick so "overwhelmed" by Gatsby's account of himself?

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luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 4, Nick finally, instead of only getting rumors and innuendo, gets some information from Gatsby himself about Gatsby.  On a ride in Gatsby's ostentatious car, Jay asks Nick what his opinion is of Jay Gatsby.  The suddenness of the question, the car, and the unusual sense of the question all serve to overwhelm Nick.  The content of Jay's explanation of his past and its obvious falseness also serve to further that feeling of being overwhelmed.  Up to this point, Nick has only heard bits and pieces of people's speculation about Jay Gatsby and his past.  Nick himself refers to his neighbor as nothing more than the "owner of an elaborate roadhouse". Now though, Jay takes the time and obvious effort to single out Nick for this explanation.  Nick doesn't realize yet what Jay's goal is.  When he does find out that Jay wants to see Daisy and he's using Nick as the means to that end, he is no longer overwhelmed by Jay.  Instead, Nick is touched by Jay's devotion to Daisy.

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The Great Gatsby

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