Chapter 5 Summary and Analysis
Daisy agrees to come to tea, curious as to why Nick told her not to bring Tom. Gatsby has had the grass cut and sent over a greenhouse worth of flowers, but very nearly went back home at the last second, convinced that she wouldn’t come. When her car pulls into the driveway, both men jump up, feeling harrowed by the ordeal of waiting. It’s raining outside, and Daisy’s hair is a little damp when Nick invites her inside. He’s surprised to find the living room empty. Gatsby had slipped out in a fit of anxiety and now knocks on the front door, dripping wet, and brushes past Nick on the way to talk to Daisy. This process of setting up the meeting and nearly calling it off and coming back in again has left Gatsby feeling tense and anxious, and this only feeds into Daisy’s surprise and confusion in seeing him again. It’s a painfully awkward encounter at first, while Daisy tries to figure out how she feels, but after Nick leaves things become easier, and Gatsby and Daisy are able to rekindle their love.
When Nick returns, it’s clear that Daisy has been crying (out of happiness and confusion, the reader assumes), but Gatsby is glowing, and it’s for this that Nick thinks that they have gotten over their embarrassment and come to some sort of an arrangement. When Gatsby takes her to his home, she’s amazed by its size and opulence and walks around in a state of bewildered pleasure, marveling at the beauty of the music room, the dressing room, the salon. Soon, this bewilderment makes her distraught, and after delighting in Gatsby’s gold hairbrush she weeps over his shirts. “They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobs, overwhelmed by everything that he’s shown her. Her sadness suggests that she was never expecting to see Gatsby again and that if she had known that he’d be rich (richer even than Tom), she might’ve married him, after all.
During their tour, Nick spots a picture of Dan Cody, who Gatsby says was his dearest friend, until recently. Gatsby doesn’t elaborate, and soon asks his boarder, Klipspringer, to play the piano for them while they sit together on the couch. Nick notices then that Gatsby’s glow has begun to fade and that the nervousness has crept back in, even through his happiness. Before Nick leaves, he ruminates a moment on Gatsby’s plan and the five years it took him to reunite with Daisy. In that time, his dream of getting back together with Daisy took on a life of its own and began to embellish itself, growing larger, taking on new facets, and transforming Daisy from a girl to an ideal. His dream was almost impossible to obtain, and now that it has been achieved he must do the difficult work of sustaining it. This will not be as easy as he hopes.
“Ain’t We Got Fun” and “The Love Nest.” Popular songs from the 1920s. “Ain’t We Got Fun” is a foxtrot first performed in 1920 and has a jaunty tune characteristic of the Roaring Twenties, while “The Love Nest” is a song from the musical Mary composed by Lou Hirsch, one of the most famous composers of the time. Both are meant to evoke the style and energy of the Jazz Age.
Economics: An Introduction to the General Reader by Henry Clay. A textbook published in 1918 and written by Henry Clay (1883-1954, not to be confused with Henry Clay, the politician from Kentucky well-known for developing the “American System,” an economic plan he implemented in the mid-1810s). Its presence indicates that Nick has indeed been studying economics very hard, though it may seem like he spends all his time partying.
Immanuel Kant. A German philosopher perhaps best known for his work Critique of Pure Reason , in which he discusses the nature of a priori knowledge, which is obtained independent of experience, and a posteriori knowledge, which is obtained only through experience. Kant developed the habit of staring out of his window at the church steeple Nick mentions whenever he needed a break from work. In the 1780s, the steeple was obscured by trees...
(The entire section is 1,817 words.)