Free Study Guide-The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald-Book Notes


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When Nick returns home from his date in the city with Jordan Baker, Gatsby’s house is ablaze with lights from tower to cellar, but there is no party and no sound. Instead, Gatsby walks over and invites Nick to go to Coney Island or for a swim. Nick declines the invitations but tells Gatsby what he really wants to hear. He will invite Daisy over the day after tomorrow. Gatsby again emphasizes that he does not want to put his neighbor to any trouble, says he will have Nick’s lawn mowed for him before her arrival, and offers Nick the opportunity to make a nice bit of money on the side (without any involvement with Wolfsheim). Nick, appalled that Gatsby is tactlessly offering payment for a service to be rendered, says he cannot take on any more work. In spite of Gatsby’s “faux pas,” Nick calls Daisy the next day, invites her to tea, and tells her not to bring Tom.

On the morning of Daisy’s visit, scheduled for 4:00 p.m., it is pouring rain, but a gardener, sent by Gatsby, still comes and cuts Nick’s grass. At 2:00 p.m., a virtual greenhouse of flowers, complete with containers, arrives from Gatsby. At 3:00 p.m., Gatsby, looking nervous and tired, arrives, dressed in a white flannel suite, silver shirt, and gold tie. He tries unsuccessfully to calm his nerves by reading. Finally, at a little before four o’clock, he announces that obviously no one is coming to tea, and he is going home. Before he can depart, Daisy’s open car comes up the drive, and Nick goes out to greet her with her “bright ecstatic smile.” She asks Nick in her rippling voice, “Is this absolutely where you live, my dearest one?” She is obviously amazed at the size and appearance of the small bungalow. When Daisy and Nick enter the house, Gatsby has disappeared. He soon, however, knocks at the front door, and Nick finds him outside “pale as death with his hands plunged like weights in his coat pockets and standing in a puddle of water glaring tragically into my eyes.” Gatsby comes inside to the living room, and Daisy, in a clear, artificial voice, tells him how glad she is to see him again. Nick can barely hear her voice above the pounding of his own heart. He wants this meeting at his house to be a success, so he leaves the two of them alone for awhile.

When Nick re-enters the living room, Gatsby is reclining against the mantel in a “strained counterfeit of perfect ease or boredom...and his distraught eyes stared down at Daisy, who was sitting frightened but gracefully on the edge of a stiff chair.” Daisy explains to Nick that she has not seen Gatsby for many years, and Gatsby immediately adds that it has been five years next November, betraying his devotion to Daisy. Fortunately, the awkward moment is broken with the Finnish housekeeper bringing in the tea. In the confusion of cups and cakes, Gatsby gets up, stands away in a shadow, and surveys the scene with tense, unhappy eyes. When Nick goes out to the kitchen, Gatsby follows and moans, “Oh, God! This is a terrible mistake.” Nick tries to comfort his neighbor by telling him that Daisy is as embarrassed as he is. Nick then scolds Gatsby, saying he is acting like a little boy and being rude by leaving Daisy all alone. When Gatsby returns to the living room, Nick goes outside to the back yard, observes his neighbor’s house for thirty minutes, and gives the history of the mansion.

When Nick rejoins the pair in the living room, Daisy is wiping her eyes, which are filled with tears. Gatsby, on the other hand, is glowing with a new well-being. He insists that both Nick and Daisy come over to his house. While the men wait for Daisy to freshen up, Gatsby admires his house and tells Nick that it took him three years to earn the money to buy it. When Nick questions his neighbor about having inherited money to purchase the house, Gatsby covers up once again and says that he lost his inheritance in the big panic of the war. When Nick questions him further about what kind of business he is in, Gatsby, without thinking, says, “ That’s my affair,” and then, realizing his rudeness, adds he has dabbled in the oil business and the drug business.

Daisy emerges from Nick’s house to join them on the lawn and exclaims that she loves Gatsby’s huge house, but does not see how he could possibly live there all alone. He responds by telling her that he keeps it filled with interesting and celebrated people both night and day. The three of them then enter the mansion through the front door with the gold kiss-me-nots at the gate. Inside, the trio wanders through the music rooms, the salons, and the library (where Nick recalls the owl-eyed visitor). Upstairs they visit the bedroom, poolrooms, and dressing rooms, finding Mr. Klipspringer, the “boarder,” in one of them. Finally they come to Gatsby’s own apartment, which is the simplest room in the whole house except for the solid gold toilet set. Nick, Gatsby, and Daisy sit down and have a drink.

During the entire tour, Gatsby has not once stopped looking at Daisy, and he seems to revalue everything in his house according to Daisy’s response to it. In Daisy’s presence, he has passed through three states of mind --from embarrassment, to joy, to a sense of wonder at her being in his house. He has dreamed about her for so long, and with such intensity, that he is almost dazed in her presence. He nearly falls down a flight of stairs, and he wildly shows off his rows of suits and piles of shirts, which he tosses before his guests in a heap. In reaction, Daisy bends her head into the shirts, cries stormily, and moans that she has never seen such beautiful shirts before. Like Gatsby, she is overcome with her own emotion.

The tour of the gardens, the pool, and the hydroplane is postponed due to the rain. Gatsby tells Daisy if it were not for the weather, she could see her own house across the bay with the green light burning at the end of her dock, the same green light that Gatsby stretched his hands toward at the end of Chapter I. Now the green light has changed forever. “Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy, it (the green light) had seemed very near to her, almost touching her...Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one.”

Talk then turns to the photographs in Gatsby’s room. He explains that the elderly gentleman is Mr. Dan Cody, who, before his death, used to be Gatsby’s best friend. Daisy proclaims that she adores the picture of an eighteen-year-old Gatsby in a yachting outfit. He then shows her newspaper clippings that he has cut out about her; he is interrupted, however, by the ringing of the phone. Gatsby takes the call, explains he cannot talk, and quickly hangs up on the business connection. Daisy then calls him over to the window to look at the pink and golden clouds formed above the sea and tells him that she would like to put him in one of the clouds and push him around. With nothing left to explore, Gatsby calls Klipspringer to entertain them on the piano. The “boarder” protests that he is out of practice, but Gatsby commands him to play, so he taps out “The Love Nest” and “Ain’t We Got Fun.”

At dusk, Nick takes his leave from Daisy and Gatsby. Gatsby’s performance is over, and it is “the hour of profound human change,” when the world rushes home from work. As he bids farewell, Nick notices that Gatsby’s face shows bewilderment, “as though a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness (after) almost five years.” How could Daisy possibly live up to the illusion that he created about her? She was a dream into which he had thrown himself “with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way.” But Daisy’s voice would always be enchanting “with its fluctuating, feverish warmth, because it couln’t be over-dreamed -- that voice was a deathless song.”


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