The Great Gatsby

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The Great Gatsby Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Nick observes some drunken women on Gatsby's lawn discussing Gatsby's mysterious identity, which includes all the usual rumors. Nick then lists a slew of the prominent guests who attended Gatsby's parties that summer, none of whom knew anything about their host.
Another damning portrayal of the Roaring Twenties. Nick's list of Gatsby's guests reads like a who's who of 1922, but they're all just using Gatsby for his hospitality.
Themes
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
Nick then describes accompanying Gatsby on a trip into the city for lunch. They ride to the city in Gatsby's monstrous cream-colored car. While he drives, Gatsby tells Nick about his past. Gatsby claims to be the son of wealthy parents from the "Midwest" town of San Francisco, to have graduated from Oxford, been a noted jewel collector in Europe and a decorated hero in the war. He even shows Nick a war medal, and then tells Nick to expect to hear a very sad story about him later in the afternoon.
Gatsby's story is sketchy: he's a Midwesterner from San Francisco? It seems that in typical "new money" fashion, Gatsby entirely reinvented his identity after coming to New York and getting rich. Gatsby has achieved the American Dream of incredible wealth, but he had to give up his past to get it.
Themes
The American Dream Theme Icon
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
Past and Future Theme Icon
Gatsby pays little attention to the speed limit, and a policeman pulls him over. Gatsby shows the officer a little card. The officer apologizes and lets him go.
Gatsby acts like a superstar, above the law and the police.
Themes
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
For lunch they meet a business partner of Gatsby's named Meyer Wolfsheim. Wolfsheim tells Nick that Gatsby is a man of "fine breeding" who would "never so much as look at a friend's wife." As for Wolfsheim, Gatsby tells Nick he's the man behind the fixing of the 1919 World Series. Nick begins to think Gatsby's might be involved in organized crime.
Wolfsheim's connection to Gatsby is a sign of the corruption of the American Dream, "new money," and the Roaring Twenties. Wolfsheim equates wealth with "fine breeding," whch is a very "new money" way of thinking.
Themes
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
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On the way out of the restaurant, Nick sees Tom Buchanan and introduces him to Gatsby. Gatsby appears embarrassed and leaves the scene without saying goodbye.
Foreshadows the conflict between both Tom and Gatsby in particular and "old money" and "new money" in general.
Themes
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
After lunch, Nick meets Jordan at the Plaza Hotel. She tells him the "amazing thing" that Gatsby had told her earlier: as a young man, Gatsby had a passionate romance with Daisy Fay, who is now Daisy Buchanan. During the war, when Daisy was not yet twenty, Gatsby met her while he was stationed in Louisville and the two of them fell in love. Her family prevented Daisy from leaving and marrying Gatsby, and one year later she married Tom Buchanan, a wealthy man from Chicago who gave her a string of pearls worth $350,000 and a three-month honeymoon to the South Seas.
Now Gatsby's purpose is clear. He has achieved the Roaring Twenties version of the American Dream by becoming very rich. To achieve that wealth he reinvented himself, possibly became involved in criminal activities, and sacrificed his past. But he did it all in service of a purer, more traditional American Dream: real love.
Themes
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
Past and Future Theme Icon
Jordan finishes the story later in Central Park. She says Gatsby never fell out of love with Daisy and bought his giant mansion in West Egg to be across the bay from her. He had hoped that the magnificent house would impress her and win back her love. Nick realizes that the green light he saw Gatsby gazing at sits at the end of Daisy's dock. Finally, Jordan adds that Gatsby has requested that Nick invite Daisy over to his house for tea. Then Gatsby will show up so that Daisy will have to see him, even if, as Gatsby fears, she doesn't want to.
Daisy chose the security of money over love. So Gatsby made himself rich: he thinks that money will win her back. Now his mansion, the symbol of "new money," is directly across the bay from her house, symbolic of "old money." The green light represents both Gatsby's dream of recreating his past with Daisy and the corrupt American Dream of extreme wealth.
Themes
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
Past and Future Theme Icon