What kind of people attend Gatsby's parties in The Great Gatsby?

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A wide variety of people show up at Gatsby's parties. As well as his neighbors in West Egg, some members of the old money elite of East Egg also pop their heads round the door. There are eccentric characters from the theatrical world as well as a strange man called Owl Eyes who doesn't seem to fit in anywhere.

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Hardly anyone is ever invited to one of Gatsby's legendary parties. Once word gets out, they just show up and proceed to avail themselves of their host's generous hospitality. As very few people will ever pass up the opportunity for free booze, food, and entertainment, Gatsby's parties are always very well-attended.

Not surprisingly, a wide variety of guests turn up. Inevitably, Gatsby gets a lot of people from his West Egg neighborhood coming through the door. Like Gatsby, this new money crowd wants to display its wealth and sophistication for all to see. These people want to impress the old money elite, the blue bloods of East Egg like the Buchanans. They attend Gatsby's parties to see and to be seen.

Then there are the eccentric characters from the world of the theater. They clearly appreciate the theatricality of Gatsby's parties, that they are nothing more than elaborate stage performances designed to impress. Gatsby is in many ways the ultimate theatrical impresario, so one can see why theater folk would be drawn to his parties.

Last but not least we have old Owl Eyes, a strange little man who doesn't seem to fit into any of the groups we've been examining. It would appear that he only comes to Gatsby's parties to get drunk and to admire his extensive library of unread books. Whatever his reasons for showing up, he, like every single one of Gatsby's guests, wants something from the great man, even though he doesn't know the first thing about him.

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It is a kind of odd mixture of people who come to Gatsby's parties. Nick describes them as those "who accepted Gatsby's hospitality and paid him the subtle tribute of knowing nothing whatever about him."

There are people from East Egg, those with old (inherited, rather than earned) money, the "Chester Beckers and the Leeches and a man named Bunsen whom [Nick] knew at Yale." There's a whole family named Blackbuck, with people who "flipped up their noses like goats at whosoever came near"—snobs.

From West Egg come those associated with the entertainment business, one man who later "strangled his wife," a promoter, and some gamblers. There are lots of "theatrical people" as well as Klipspringer, a man who is there so often that he becomes "known as 'the boarder.'" Interestingly, a klipspringer is a kind of mountain goat that is really good at climbing; perhaps this points to Klipspringer's attempts to climb the social ladder at Gatsby's house. There's one man, Benny McClenahan, who always brings a different group of four girls, another woman who comes with her chauffeur, and "a prince of something whom [they] called Duke and whose name" has long since been forgotten.

It is a motley crew of people who seem to enjoy how over-the-top Gatsby's parties are, either because they chafe against the constraints of being truly upper class, because they want to get drunk on someone else's dime, because they are attempting to climb the social ladder and see this as a good way to do it, or some combination thereof. None of these guests seem interested in their host—other than to gossip about him—and they all seem to behave badly.

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Gatsby's parties are attended by the famous and the nouveau riche.

In Chapter 4 of The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald provides vignettes of the time period, a period in which the acquisition of money by any means was often justified. Those who attend Gatsby's parties are not the wealthy old families of East Egg but are instead those of questionable reputation, such as Ripley Snells, who is there "three days before he went to the penitentiary" and James B. ("Rot-gut") Ferret. He and the de Jongs and Ernest Lily have come to gamble. Nick narrates that when Ferret "wandered into the garret," it meant he "was cleaned out" and on the stock market the next day the Associated Traction "would have to fluctuate profitably."

Further, Fitzgerald satirically provides a list of names, many of which are ridiculously piscine--"the Fishguards, the Hammerheads and Beluga..."-- or absurd in sound, such as Mr. Albrucksburger and Miss Haag, his fiancee. There is also Miss Claudia Hip, who is accompanied by her chauffeur. One guest has the tendency to stay on so long after parties that he has become known as "the boarder": Mr. Klipspringer.   

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The guests at Gatsby's parties include all the "beautiful people" of his day. Gatsby's aim in entertaining, as with most things, was to present himself as being highly desirable and influential in social circles. He entertained lavishly and invited important people who would be able to help him achieve his goals of making himself well-known.

From West Egg came the Poles and the Mulreadys and Cecil Roebuck and Cecil Schoen and Gulick the State senator and Newton Orchid, who controlled Films Par Excellence, and Eckhaust and Clyde Cohen and Don S. Schwartze (the son) and Arthur McCarty, all connected with the movies in one way or another.

In addition to the persons Gatsby invited to come to his parties, there were always plenty of others who came without an official invitation. These persons, who came for the excitement of associating with the official guests, were generally not as prosperous or well-established in society, but they were eager to contribute to the festivities and to partake of the liquor and to share in the general atmosphere of uninhibited merriment.

I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby's house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited - they went there...Once there they were introduced by somebody who knew Gatsby, and after that they conducted themselves according to the rules of behavior associated with an amusement park.

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