What does Mr. Wolfsheim tell Nick about Gatsby and Tom in The Great Gatsby?

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In The Great Gatsby, Mr. Wolfsheim tells Nick that he met Gatsby as a poor, desperate young man shortly after returning from the war. According to Wolfsheim, Gatsby was so poor, the only pair of clothes he owned was his uniform. He also refers to Gatsby as an "Oggsford man" and claims to have "raised him up out of nothing."

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When Mr. Wolfsheim meets Nick in a dark restaurant on 42nd Street, he tells Nick that Gatsby is an "Oggsford" man and that he has known him since the end of World War I. He also tells Nick that Gatsby is a man of fine breeding, handsome, a "perfect" gentleman, and the kind of person you could introduce to your mother and sister. Wolfsheim informs Nick that Gatsby is "careful" about women and would never look at a friend's wife.

As is so often the case with Gatsby, a fuller story comes out later. After Gatsby's death, Nick determinedly tracks Wolfsheim down about the funeral. Wolfsheim tells Nick that he met Gatsby when he was jobless and hungry. Gatsby had to wear his army uniform all the time because he couldn't afford any other clothes, and he hadn't eaten in several days. Wolfsheim says he fed Gatsby and, seeing his potential as an Oggsford man, apparently saw him as someone who could be used as a smooth, polished front for his illegal operations, and so he hired him. He says he "made" Gatsby.

Wolfsheim tells Gatsby nothing about Tom, but Tom does discuss Wolfsheim when he and Gatsby have their confrontation at the Plaza. Tom reveals he knows about the shady chain of "drugstores" Wolfsheim owned with Gatsby, doing his best to paint Gatsby as a criminal.

In a novel obsessed with class, being about Gatsby's attempts to transcend his own class, Wolfsheim's relationship with Gatsby further reveals the extent to which Gatsby came from nowhere. Wolfsheim is not a reliable character, but the basic contours of his story hold up, especially when confirmed by Tom's research and Gatsby's own admissions.

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Gatsby introduces Nick to his notorious business partner Meyer Wolfsheim in chapter 4 when they meet for lunch in a Forty-Second Street cellar. Initially, Meyer mistakes Nick for someone interested in a "business gonnegtion" and mentions that Gatsby is an "Oggsford man" when he leaves to take a phone call. Meyer also informs Nick that he has known Gatsby for several years and met him shortly after he returned from war. Meyer says that Gatsby is a "man of fine breeding" and tells Nick, "There's the kind of man you'd like to take home and introduce to your mother and sister." Meyer does not go into specific details regarding his relationship with Gatsby and never mentions Tom Buchanan's name.

The only other time Nick speaks to Meyer Wolfsheim takes place after Gatsby's death. Nick tries to get in touch with Wolfsheim and invite him to Gatsby's funeral, but Wolfsheim purposely avoids him. As a career criminal and Gatsby's former business partner, Meyer tries to distance himself from the shocking situation and does not return any of Nick's calls.

Nick finally manages to have a face-to-face conversation with Wolfsheim, who recalls the first time he met Gatsby. He tells Nick that Gatsby was a "young major just out of the army and covered over with medals he got in the war." He also says Gatsby's uniform was the only pair of clothes he owned when he asked for a job. Meyer also remembers that Gatsby ate four dollars' worth of food when he took him out to lunch for the first time.

According to Meyer, he "raised him [Gatsby] up out of nothing, right out of the gutter." He knew that Gatsby was a "fine appearing, gentlemanly young man" and instantly hired him. Their business partnership grew, and Gatsby became a success. Despite being a close friend and former business partner, Meyer Wolfsheim refuses to attend Gatsby's funeral.

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When Nick is first introduced to Meyer Wolfsheim in chapter 4, Wolfsheim tells him that he has known Gatsby for several years and mentions that Gatsby is an "Oggsford man." He mentions that he met Gatsby shortly after the war and describes him as a man of "fine breeding." Meyer goes on to say that Gatsby is careful about his women and would never look at a friend's wife. Meyer Wolfsheim ends up leaving the restaurant before Tom Buchanan walks over and meets Gatsby for the first time.

In chapter 9, Meyer writes a letter to Nick telling him that he cannot attend Gatsby's funeral and has to take care of some important business. When Nick visits Wolfsheim's office, Meyer tells Nick the truth and elaborates on how he initially met Gatsby. Meyer tells Nick that when Gatsby first returned home from the war, he could not afford a pair of clothes and was forced to wear his uniform every day. Meyer then bought Gatsby dinner and introduced him to the bootlegging business. Meyer tells Nick that he "made" Gatsby and raised him up from nothing. Meyer then refuses to attend Gatsby's funeral because he does not want to get "mixed up" in anything.

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I am not aware of any place in the book in which Wolfsheim tells Nick anything about Tom at all.  There are a few times that Wolfsheim talks to Nick about Gatsby and one time he communicates with him in writing. 

Meyer Wolfsheim first appears in Chapter IV, at lunch with Nick and Gatsby.  When Gatsby excuses himself for a moment, Wolfsheim tells Nick that Gatsby is an "Oggsford man" (76) and that he is a "man of fine breeding" (76) who would never look at another man's wife.

Wolfsheim writes to Nick in Chapter IX, to tell Nick this is "one of the most terrible shocks" (174) of his life. 

Finally, also in Chapter IX, Wolfsheim tells Nick that when he met Gatsby, he could not afford to buy clothes and had nothing to eat for a few days. He says, "I raised him up out of nothing, right out of the gutter..." (179) and that they were "always together" (179). 

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What does Mr. Wolfsheim tell Nick about Gatsby?

Meyer Wolfsheim is one of the minor characters in the novel, a man who engages in criminal activities and who brings the element of 1920s gansterism into the story. It is through Wolfsheim that Nick learns an important part of the truth about Gatsby's life. Nick speaks to Wolfsheim on two occasions in the novel, in Chapter IV and in the final chapter. Through Wolfsheim, Nick learns that Gatsby returned from World War I hungry and penniless, still wearing his uniform because he had no other clothes. Wolfsheim met Gatsby in a New York pool room. He fed Gatsby, telling Nick Gatsby ate $4.00 worth of food, a great deal in 1920s prices. Wolfsheim liked the young man's looks and thought he could present himself well in polite society in advancing Wolfsheim's illegal interests. In other words, Gatsby could serve Wolfsheim as a good "front man" in dealing with groups such as the American Legion. Gatsby went to work for Wolfsheim, earning a fortune through a life of crime. Wolfsheim tells Nick that he "used" Gatsby very successfully.

After Gatsby's death, Wolfsheim refuses to come to his funeral. He makes it clear to Nick that he does not want any of the publicity that might result. Wolfsheim has no further use for Gatsby.

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What does Mr. Wolfsheim tell Nick about Gatsby?

Meyer Wolfsheim tells Nick the truth about how he met Gatsby and how their business relationship developed. This is after Nick tracks him down, doing everything possible to make sure someone is at Gatsby's funeral. Wolfsheim reminisces about the first time he saw Gatsby.

“A young major just out of the army and covered over with medals he got in the war. He was so hard up he had to keep on wearing his uniform because he couldn’t buy some regular clothes. First time I saw him was when he come into Winebrenner’s poolroom at Forty-third Street and asked for a job. He hadn’t eat anything for a couple of days. ‘come on have some lunch with me,’ I sid. He ate more than four dollars’ worth of food in half an hour.”

There's certainly a discrepancy here between everyone's impressions of Gatsby and the reality. He struggled up from nothing, to build a mansion of illusions for Daisy. Before, we've only seen the glamorous, flashy Gatsby. But here is someone who knew him before, as a hungry, desperate young man. It seems as though Wolfsheim wants Nick to know that he found Gatsby; he even says he "made him." He explains it further:

“I raised him up out of nothing, right out of the gutter. I saw right away he was a fine-appearing, gentlemanly young man, and when he told me he was at Oggsford I knew I could use him good. Right off he did some work for a client of mine up to Albany. We were so thick like that in everything.”—he held up two bulbous fingers——” always together.”

In this short speech, Wolfsheim reveals the depths of his relationship with Gatsby, and hints at the criminal activity rumored to have funded Gatsby's fortune.

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