The Great Gatsby Chapter 1 Summary Chapter one of The Great Gatsby introduces the narrator, Nick Carraway, and establishes the context and setting of the novel. Nick begins by explaining his own situation. He has moved from the Midwest to West Egg, a town on Long Island, NY. The novel is set in the years following WWI, and begins in 1922. Nick served in the army in WWI, and now that he is home has decided to move east and try to become a bond trader on Wall Street. Nick is a graduate of Yale, and grew up in a wealthy family. He is what is considered "old rich," and feels he is superior to those who have recently earned great fortunes, the "new rich." Nick has rented a small house that is nestled between many large mansions. The mansion next door to his house belongs to the title character, Jay Gatsby. There is a large bay in front of Nick's house, and across that bay live Nick's cousin, Daisy and her husband Tom Buchanan. Nick is invited to Tom and Daisy's for dinner. He discovers that Daisy's husband, Tom, is still as aggressive and assertive as he was when they went to college together. He also learns that Tom is a racist, as he explains a book about white supremacy he's recently read. Nick is happy to see his cousin, Daisy, however, whom he hasn't seen since before the war, and to hear about her life. A fourth character, Jordan Baker, is introduced. Jordan is a professional golfer and she and Nick share a mutual attraction. The dinner is interrupted several times, however, by the ringing telephone. Tom's mistress calls repeatedly to speak with him, causing him to leave the table several times. At one point Daisy follows after Tom and the couple quarrel. When he gets back to his own house after dinner, Nick spies his neighbor, Gatsby, for the first time. Gatsby is standing on the lawn, looking at a small green light at the end of the dock at Daisy and Tom's house. Gatsby's arms are stretched out, as though he is reaching for the light. Chapter 2 Nick is taking the train into New York City with Tom Buchanan. He begins the chapter by describing an area he calls a valley of ashes. It is an area where ashes from coal burning furnaces are deposited. Everything is gray and lifeless, even the people who work and live in the area. Nick describes an old billboard for an optometrist, Doctor T.J. Eckleburg. The billboard features a pair of giant eyes that seem to be gazing down on the people below. This billboard is an important feature of the novel, and is intended to suggest that God is watching this area. As the train slows down in the Valley, Tom announces that they are getting off so that Nick can meet his mistress. Nick explains that everyone in New York knows about Tom's mistress and that Tom makes no effort at all to keep it a secret that he is cheating on his wife. The two man leave the train and walk to a car repair garage. The owner, George Wilson, seems to know Tom and asks him about a car he may be selling and other business matters. Wilson's wife, Myrtle, is Tom's mistress. She is in her mid-thirties, plump or fleshy, and a bit loud. Tom manages to tell Myrtle that he wants to see her, without Wilson finding out. Nick and Tom leave the garage and get back on a train. Myrtle lies to her husband, telling him she is going to visit her sister and also gets on the train. Once they get into New York, Nick learns that Tom keeps an apartment for Myrtle. Myrtle calls her sister and some friends and a liquor-fueled party develops in the apartment. Nick, Tom, Myrtle, Myrtle's sister Catherine, and Myrtle's neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. McKee spend the afternoon drinking alcohol and becoming intoxicated. Myrtle grows combative and, while arguing with Tom about his wife, begins to show "Daisy" as loud as she can. Tom hits her, breaking her nose. The guests leave, and the chapter ends with Tom heading back home. Chapter 3 Nick describes the elaborate party preparations that go on at his neighbor, Gatsby's house every week. For example, cases of oranges are delivered, caterers appear and set up elaborate decorations and tables of food, and a huge bar is installed. This last detail is particularly interesting because the novel is set during Prohibition, a time in the United States when buying and selling alcohol was illegal. Nick finally receives an invitation to one of Gatsby's parties. He is very impressed that he is one of the few people at the party to have been formally invited. He learns that most people simply arrive at Gatsby's house, expecting there to be a party in progress. Once he arrives at the party, Nick spends quite a bit of time trying to find Gatsby. No one seems to know Gatsby, even though they are all guests in his home. Nick unexpectedly runs into Jordan Baker, Daisy's friend whom he met at the dinner party in Chapter 1. He and Jordan spend time together and overhear and share several rumors they and others have heard about Gatsby. There are rumors that Gatsby killed a man and that he is a bootlegger, or someone who produces and markets alcohol illegally. Nick strikes up a conversation with a man, and after a while realizes he is actually talking to his host, Jay Gatsby. He is embarrassed to have not recognized him, but Gatsby puts him at ease, and invites him to go up in his hydroplane in the morning. Gatsby asks Jordan if he can speak with her privately. While he waits for Jordan, Nick wanders into Gatsby's library and meets a man who notes how impressive Gatsby's efforts to project a certain image are. The books in the library are real. They have never been read, but the man is impressed that Gatsby went to the trouble of buying real books. When Jordan returns to Nick, she won't tell him what they discussed, but does reveal that is "the most amazing thing." Jordan asks Nick to come and see her at her aunt's house before leaving with the friends she arrived with. Nick says good night to Gatsby and walks home, noting a drunken party that has put their car in a ditch near Gatsby's house. Nick ends the chapter buy describing some of the other things he's done in the summer: he's worked, made friends with some of the other clerks, and had a short affair with a girl from work, until her brother started giving him dirty looks. He spent time at the Yale Club and at the library. He also spent some time trying to learn more about Jordan Baker, and discovered that she had been accused of cheating at golf, and that she was actually quite dishonest Chapter 4 Chapter four opens with Nick attending another of Gatsby's parties. Nick uses this as a starting point and begins recounting some notes he claims to have taken, listing some of the more notable people he encountered that summer. His point is to prove that Gatsby's party attract the most notable people of the time. He also describes one man, Klipspringer, who never seems to leaves Gatsby's parties and has come to be known as the "boarder," which suggests he is living in the Gatsby's mansion. One morning Gatsby goes to Nick's house and tells him they are having lunch together in New York. Nick agrees and the two drive into the city in Gatsby's car. During the drive, Gatsby gives Nick an overview of his background. Gatsby claims he was born into a wealthy Midwestern family who lived, oddly, in San Francisco (which is on the West coast and not in the Midwest). He says he was educated at Oxford, a very prestigious British college, and that after he toured Europe, he served in the military during WWI, where he was promoted quickly to a major. He claims to have dealt in jewels and to have had many adventures. Nick considers it almost laughable how far-fetched Gatsby's story is, but Gatsby produces a medal he was awarded for valor and picture of himself at Oxford, which, momentarily quells Nick's doubts. When they get to the city they meet Gatsby's friend, Meyer Wolfshiem. Wolfshiem is an unsavory character whose cufflinks are real human teeth. Gatsby reveals that it is rumored that Wolfshiem "fixed" the 1919 World Series, meaning he paid players on one team to lose the game. Woflshiem is also linked to organize crime, which provides Nick with more information about the source of Gatsby's wealth. Gatsby also tells Nick that he has a favor to ask, but that Jordan will tell him about it. Later, Nick sees Jordan, and she tells him the story of Daisy's and Gatsby. The two met when Gatsby, who was not wealthy then, was stationed near Daisy's home in Louisville, KY. They were very much in love, but Gatsby was called to New York to sail to Europe for the war. He vowed he would return when he was a wealthy man. The war ended, but Gatsby did not return. Tom Buchanan wooed Daisy, notably with a string of pearls worth thousands of dollars. On the day Daisy married Tom, she received a letter from Gatsby and almost called the whole thing off. Ultimately, she destroyed the letter, and married Tom, who was never faithful to her. Gatsby, Nick discovers, bought his large house to be close to Daisy and threw his lavish parties hoping she'd attend. Seeing that she was not likely to attend, Gatsby asked Jordan to ask Nick to invite Daisy to tea and arrange a meeting. Nick agrees to do so. Chapter 5 Nick returns to his house after visiting with Jordan and sees that Gatsby has turned on every light in his house and his walking over to visit Nick. Nick tells Gatsby that he will invite Daisy for tea and the two agree on a time. In return, Gatsby offers Nick a business opportunity to "pick up a bit of money," but Nick declines and assures Gatsby he is making the invitation as a favor and wants nothing in return. Nick calls Daisy the next day and asks her to visit, but not to bring Tom. Daisy agrees. Gatsby becomes obsessed with making everything perfect for the meeting. He sends a man to cut Nick's lawn and has flowers delivered. Gatsby arrives at Nick's house an hour before Daisy is expected and Nick is surprised by how nervous he is. Finally Daisy arrives, but when Nick comes back from the front door with her, Gatsby has disappeared. He has gone out a back door and shows up again at the front door, as though he has just stopped by. After the initial meeting, Nick decides he is getting in the way of the reunion and he leaves the house for a while. When Nick returns, Gatsby and Daisy are getting along famously. Gatsby invites Daisy and Nick to his mansion, where he gives Daisy a grand tour of his home, showing her how wealthy he has become. Daisy is delighted by all of the luxury and fine things at Gatsby's house. She respects material wealth, and Gatsby has achieved it. He shows her his furniture, his art, and his finely tailored clothes. At one point Daisy cries, claiming she is overwhelmed by how beautiful Gatsby's shirts are. Despite how joyous this reunion seems to be, at the end of the chapter, Nick suggests that the experience is disappointing for Gatsby because he has been motivated by wanting to impress Daisy for all these years. Now that she is in his house and duly impressed, he may not have anything to work toward anymore. Chapter 6 Nick begins the chapter by describing an incident in which a reporter showed up at Gatsby's door, asking for a comment - he didn't suggest that there was an issue that Gatsby should comment on; the reported only wanted to get some, or any, information. This opening reminds the reader that Gatsby is the subject of speculation and gossip throughout New York. After describing the incident, Nick notes that he spent some away from Gatsby, and then goes on to recount the true facts of Gatsby's biography. In the chronology of the novel, Nick did not know these details yet, but in looking back on the incidents as the narrator of something that occurred in the past, he did. Nick provides the following details about Gatsby's "real" background: - Gatsby's real name is James Gatz - He was born in North Dakota to "shiftless, unsuccessful farm people" - He left home when he was young and moved around the west. - One day he was "loafing" along the shore of Lake Superior when he spotted a yacht in some trouble. In a borrowed rowboat, he went out to the boat and helped its drunken owner, Dan Cody. - Cody was about 50 years old, and "new rich" from his silver mines. He took Gatsby under his wing and hired him as "steward, mate, skipper, secretary" to protect Cody from his drunken self. - Cody was Gatsby's mentor and showed him how the wealthy class lived. - When Cody died he left Gatsby $25,000, but Cody's family cheated him out of it. - When he met Cody, James Gatz changed his name to Jay Gatsby. Nick explains that during this time, while he was away from Gatsby, he was spending time with Jordan, and trying to charm her aunt, with whom she lived. One day, however, Nick did go to see Gatsby for tea. While he was there, three people arrived on horseback, including Tom Buchanan, Daisy's husband. Gatsby betrays the fact that he is "new rich" by greeting them overly enthusiastically. The visitors settle down for drinks and Gatsby tells Tom that he knows his wife, Daisy. The woman in the riding party drinks two alcoholic drinks and tells Gatsby she'd like to come to one of his parties and then invites Gatsby to supper. Gatsby accepts, not realizing that she has had too much to drink and that the invitation is not in earnest. The other man in the party announces that they must be leaving, but the woman invites Gatsby again. When Gatsby excuses himself to get his car to follow them, the man is amazed that Gatsby really thinks he's been invited. The three visitors end up leaving before Gatsby returns. The following Saturday night, Tom and Daisy arrive at one of Gatsby's parties. Gatsby tries to impress them by pointing out celebrities and insists on introducing Tom as "The Polo Player," which annoys Tom. When it is time for dinner, Tom excuses himself to sit with another woman. Daisy sarcastically offers Tom a pencil, in case he needs to take down her address. Nick relates watching the celebrities at the party through Daisy's eyes. She seems simultaneously impressed by a famous actress and director, and disgusted by the number of people who were obviously not invited. When Tom returns he questions Nick about Gatsby, and suggests he is a bootlegger. Eventually Daisy and Tom leave. Nick waits to visit with Gatsby when the party ends, and Gatsby confesses he feels very far away from Daisy. Nick tells Gatsby, "You can't repeat the past," to which Gatsby replies, "Of course you can." Chapter 7 Gatsby has fired all of his servants and replaced them with associates of Wolfshiem. Gatsby was concerned that the old servants were gossiping in town about Daisy's visits to his mansion. The new servants may not actually be servants. They are rude, and the house is in disarray. Nick thought, initially that Gatsby had moved away. Gatsby calls Nick to invite him to Daisy's house for lunch. Jordan Baker and Gatsby will be there, as well as Daisy and Tom. Nick agrees. The day of the lunch is the hottest day of summer. Everyone moves slowly. Gatsby arrives at Daisy's to the sound of the phone ringing and Tom talking to who is obviously Myrtle. Daisy and Jordan are stretched out on the sofa, both dressed in white. Tom claims the phone call was a business deal and Nick, inexplicably, confirms this as fact. After making conversation about the terrible heat, and briefly introducing her daughter to the group, Daisy proposes that they all go into town, meaning that they should go to Manhattan. After she makes the suggestion, she exchanges a few words with Gatsby, and Tom, watching the couple, realizes they are having an affair. Tom becomes angry, but hides it by agreeing that they should all go to New York. Gatsby and Daisy drive Tom's car. Tom, Nick, and Jordan take Gatsby's bright yellow car. On the way to New York Tom stops at Wilson's garage with Gatsby's car. Wilson presses him again to sell him a car, adding that he needs the money because he and his wife, Tom's mistress, Myrtle, are moving away. This information upsets Tom. As Tom is talking to George, Myrtle watches from the window. She sees Jordan waiting in the car and assumes Jordan is Daisy, which makes her angry and jealous. Finally everyone arrives at the suite they've taken at the Plaza Hotel in New York. Tom begins challenging Gatsby. First he suggests that Gatsby has lied about attending Oxford. Gatsby successfully defends himself. Tom then asks Gatsby what is going on between him and Daisy. Gatsby replies that Daisy loves him, has never loved Tom, and that she plans to leave Tom and marry Gatsby. Daisy, however, refuses to confirm that she never loved Tom. Tom, buoyed by Daisy's uncertainty, tells Gatsby that Daisy would never leave him for a "bootlegger." The party breaks up and heads home. Daisy and Gatsby leave in Gatsby's car. Tom, Jordan, and Nick follow in Tom's car. As Gatsby and Daisy drive by Wilson's garage, Myrtle runs out to the car. Daisy and Gatsby do not stop. Tom, Jordan, and Nick come on the scene next, and stop to see what is going on. Tom is distraught to learn that Myrtle has been killed, and when George describes the yellow car, he is certain Gatsby has killed her. When everyone returns to Tom and Daisy's house, Nick waits outside for a cab, and talks to Gatsby, who tells him that it was Daisy, not he, who was driving. Nick leaves Gatsby outside of the Buchanan's house, where he is standing by, in case Daisy needs him. Chapter 8 In the morning , after a sleepless night, haunted by Myrtle's death, Nick hears Gatsby returning from having spent the night standing outside Daisy's house. He goes to talk to Gatsby and learns that Daisy never came out of the house and nothing happened. Nick tells Gatsby he should go away, before the police trace his car, but Gatsby holds on to his dream of being with Daisy. He tells Nick the story of how they met, when he was poor, and how he was drafted into the war and had to leave her. He explains that Daisy believed they were of the same social class, and he let her believe it. At the end of the war, Gatsby didn't return immediately to Daisy, but was sent to Oxford. Daisy, in the meantime, needed some decision or movement in her life. She wrote Gatsby that she was going to marry Tom. When he finally returned, he went to Louisville to find her, but learned that she had, indeed, married Tom and was on her honeymoon. He says he should have tried harder to find her and get her back. The gardener comes in while the two are talking and tells Gatsby he is going to drain the pool, as summer is over. Gatsby tells him to do it later because he wants to swim once before the summer ends, and he has never used the pool. Nick leaves him for the last time saying, "They're a rotten crowdâ¦you're worth the whole damn bunch put together. " Nick goes into the city to go to work. Jordan calls, angry that he left her at Gatsby's house. They talk for a while, then listen to silence on the phone, then they hang up. He tries to call Gatsby, but can't get through. He leaves his office and heads home. The scene switches to George Wilson and his neighbor Michaelis, in George's garage all night. Michaelis leaves George, but returns a few hours later. Wilson has left the garage and traveled to West Egg, and to Gatsby's house, where, sure that Gatsby hit his wife with his car, Wilson shoots and kills Gatsby as he swims in his pool. Nick arrives to find Gatsby's body in the pool. The gardener finds Wilson, dead, off in the grass near the pool. Chapter 9 The police and bands of reporters arrive at Gatsby's house when news of his death gets worried. Nick waits for someone to take charge of the funeral arrangements, but, when no one steps forward to do so, he takes charge. He calls Daisy to tell her what happened. He's surprised to learn that she and Tom have left. Nick makes several phone calls, trying to gather Gatsby's friends together for his funeral. Myer Wolfshiem, who had professed his great affection for Gatsby, sends a letter explaining that he won't attend the funeral. He goes to visit Wolfshiem in person, and he responds, "Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive, not after he is dead," and refuses to "get mixed up" with Gatsby's death. Three days after Gatsby's death a telegram arrives from Henry C. Gatz, Gatsby's father, who lived in Minnesota and saw in the news of Gatsby's death in a Chicago paper. He asked that the funeral be postponed and announced he was coming at once. Henry Gatz was an old man with a sparse beard who seemed very weak. Gatz remains impressed with his son, telling Nick that Gatsby was a smart man who could have been great had he lived. Gatz is impressed by Gatsby's house, an obvious sign of his success. He shows Nick a copy of a children's book called Hopalong Cassidy in which a young Gatsby, still Jimmy Gatz had scribbled his daily schedule for self-improvement. Late that night Klipspringer, the piano-playing boarder, calls. Nick is relieved that he has found someone who will attend the funeral, but Klipspringer tells Nick he won't be attending as he's promised to go on a picnic with his hosts the next day, and he was only calling about a pair of shoes he'd left behind. Nick hangs up on him. The morning of the funeral, the only attendees are a few servants, Nick and Mr. Gatz, and the mail carrier. Just as they are about to end, the party guest called "Owl Eyes" shows up at the gate. Owl Eyes can't believe that no one else of all of Gatsby's many guests bothered to come. Nick decides he will leave West Egg and move back West. He runs into Tom in New York and learns that the day Gatsby was killed George Wilson showed up at Tom and Daisy's house. Tom told him that Gatsby was the man who owned the yellow car, and told him where he lived. Tom doesn't seem to realize the role he played in Gatsby's death, or if he does, he is not bothered by it.