The Great Gatsby Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

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Analysis & Themes

After returning from the city, Nick encounters Gatsby late at night on his front lawn. Gatsby seems nervous, and asks if Nick would like to take a swim in his pool. Nick realizes that Gatsby's is trying to convince him to set up the meeting with Daisy. Nick tells Gatsby he'll do it. Gatsby then offers Nick the chance to join a "confidential," probably illegal, business venture. Nick is offended at Gatsby trying to buy him off, but continues to discuss with Gatsby the plans for how and when to arrange the meeting.
Nick agrees to help Gatsby achieve his dream. Yet in that same moment Gatsby reveals how he has been corrupted by his pursuit of the money he feels is crucial to making his love with Daisy a reality. Instead of thanking Nick for his friendship and help, he offers him money. It's "new money" at its worst.
Gatsby is nervous on the day of the meeting. Though it's raining he sends a man to cut Nick's grass, and also makes sure Nick's house is full of flowers. Gatsby disappears just as Daisy arrives. When Gatsby arrives at Nick's front door, he looks pale and deathlike, and knocks over a clock by mistake.
Gatsby's blunder with the clock is symbolic. He knocks over time just as he tries to recreate his past with Daisy.
Gatsby and Daisy treat each other formally at first, and Gatsby's nerves threaten to overwhelm him. Nick leaves them alone for half an hour. When he returns they are blissfully happy. Gatsby then takes them on a tour of his mansion. In Gatsby's bedroom, as he tells Daisy about staring at the green light on her dock. Daisy breaks down crying while looking through Gatsby's vast collection of luxurious English shirts.
Two ways to view Daisy's breakdown: 1) she realizes that Gatsby could have given her the life she chose by marrying Tom or 2) she realizes that she's most in love with money. Either way, she misses Gatsby describing his love for her.
Nick, meanwhile, privately wonders how Daisy can possibly fulfill Gatsby's idealized vision of her. Nick reflects that over the years Gatsby has remained faithful to their love, while Daisy has given herself to another man she never loved in exchange for the security of wealth.
Gatsby's focus on the past prevents him from seeing how Daisy has changed. In fact, it prevents him from even considering the possibility that she could have changed.
They move from the house to Gatsby's well-manicured grounds. Gatsby remarks that mist on the bay blocks his view of Daisy's house and the single blinking green light on its dock.
The light has no significance now that Gatsby seems to have achieved his dream: Daisy.
Next, Gatsby gets one of his hangers-on, Ewing Klipspringer, to play the piano for the three of them. Gatsby holds Daisy's hand and she whispers something to him that seems to stir his emotions. Nick, sensing that they no longer realize he's there, leaves them, walking out alone into the rain.
Once Gatsby achieves his dream, he becomes absorbed in it, and forgets Nick. A critique of "new money" values.

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See quotes from Chapter 5