The Great Gatsby Chapter 1-5 Summaries

In Chapter 1, the narrator introduces himself as Nick Carraway and talks about himself and his father. He describes himself as tolerant but fails to realizes his views are very biased and speaks with pity to those who “haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had,” as his father says. Nick comes from a well-known Mid-Western family, and graduated from Yale (as his ancestors have) in 1915. After fighting in World War I, he comes home restless and decides to learn the bond business. His father finances Nick for a year and Nick lives in a house on West Egg. He talks about West and East Egg.

West Egg is the less fashionable of the two, and consists of new money. He lives between Gatsby’s mansion and another millionaire. East Egg consists of old money people, and that is where his cousin, Daisy, and her husband, Tom Buchanan, live. Tom was one of Nick’s classmates at Yale who played football professionally and came from a wealthy family. The Buchanans invite Nick over for dinner, and Nick meets Daisy’s friend, Jordan Baker. She is a professional golfer and seems to be bored of being wealthy. At dinner, Tom talks about the book, “The Rise of the Colored Empires”, and readers learn that Tom is pro-white dominance.

Dinner is interrupted by a phone call for Tom, and Jordan tells Nick that it’s a phone call from Tom’s lover in New York. Daisy and Nick catch up in private out on the veranda. After dinner, everyone chats in a crimson room and when Jordan heads to sleep, Daisy jokes that Jordan and Nick should marry each other. Soon, Nick heads home and sees Gatsby on his dock reaching out his hand across the Sound. Chapter 2 begins with a description of the valley of ashes which is located between West Egg and New York. The area is a barren wasteland and a large billboard with Doctor T. J. Eckleburg’s eyes decay in the valley.

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Catherine states that the only reason Tom hasn’t left Daisy is because Daisy is Catholic, and Catholics don’t believe in divorce. Nick is surprised by such an accusation because he knows that Daisy is not Catholic. Myrtle then talks about how she never loved her husband, and she made the biggest mistake marrying him. Later, Tom gives Myrtle a puppy as a gift, and the drinking goes on. Sometime after, Myrtle starts chanting Daisy’s name, and Tom punches her in the face, breaking her nose. Chapter 3 begins with Nick’s description of Gatsby’s Saturday night parties.

These parties are extremely lavish, and earned the reputation of being one of the best parties in New York. Guests gather to admire Gatsby’s Rolls Royce and enormous swimming pool, eat delicious food, enjoy the live band, and drink unlimited amounts of alcohol that Gatsby supplies everyone with. Eventually, Gatsby’s chauffeur brings an invitation to Nick’s door and Nick heads over the next day. When he arrives, the mansion is already packed with anyone and everyone. Many attendees were not invited, even more have not met Gatsby face to face.

The crowd is mixed, with people from West Egg and East Egg, and people from New York and some that weren’t high up on the social ladder. Nick then runs into Jordan Baker, and they hear rumors among the crowd about Gatsby. Nick and Jordan roam around to try to find Gatsby, and at first end up in Gatsby’s library. In his library, they meet a man they call Owl Eyes, who is fascinated by the fact that all the books in the library are real. Afterward, they head out to the garden and begin talking to a man that is young and handsome. He tells them that he served in the same division as Nick in the war.

He then introduces himself as Gatsby. Gatsby leaves to take a phone call, but tells one of his servants to seek out Jordan Baker to tell her he needs to speak with her in private. A few hours later, Jordan comes out of the library and tells Nick the conversation was “simply amazing. ” Before Nick leaves, Gatsby invites him to go hydroplaning the next morning and Nick agrees to go. As Nick leaves the mansion, fifty feet from the door, he sees that a car has landed in a ditch. He sees Owl Eyes there and the whole situation is very bizarre. Nick then breaks off to talk about his overall summer of 1922.

He states that he did not only attend parties all summer long, but also worked in New York. He met again with Jordan in midsummer, and realized that she had cheated in a golf tournament. Although he knows that Jordan lies constantly, he is still somehow attracted to her. In Chapter 4, Nick returns to one of Gatsby’s Sunday morning parties, and he hears a couple of young ladies gossip about Gatsby. They say he is a bootlegger and killed a man because he found out. On another morning, Gatsby invites Nick to lunch in the city. Gatsby then asks Nick what he thinks of him.

Nick is very evasive in the way he responds. Gatsby then tells Nick about his past, claiming to be from a MidWestern family and says he is from the city of San Francisco. He then goes on to say that he studied at Oxford and lived in all of the capitals of Europe. And that he enlisted in the war effort, where he was quickly promoted to major and celebrated by every Allied government. Gatsby even pulls out a picture of himself at Oxford and also a medal with his name on it from Montenegro. Gatsby drives very fast through the valley of ashes and is pulled over by a policeman for speeding.

Gatsby shows the policeman a white card and the policeman apologizes and doesn’t give him a ticket. At lunch, Gatsby introduces Carraway to Meyer Wolfsheim, who is a Jewish man that is an infamous gambler and who claims to have fixed the 1919 World Series. Wolfsheim proudly shows Nick his arm cuff that is made of human molars. Nick soon believes that Gatsby is involved in dark business. After Wolfsheim leaves the restaurant, Nick spots Tom at a table and introduces Gatsby to him. Gatsby is visibly uncomfortable around Tom and leaves suddenly without an explanation.

The next time Nick meets with Jordan, she tells him that Gatsby is in love with Daisy. She says that back in 1917, both Daisy and Gatsby volunteered at the Red Cross and Daisy madly fell in love with him. She promised that she would wait for Gatsby to return from war, but while he was away, Tom proposed to her and she accepted. The night before Daisy’s wedding, she had realized her huge mistake and drank herself to insanity. Jordan tells Nick that the only reason why Gatsby bought his mansion on West Egg was to be directly across the bay from Daisy.

Nick then realizes why Gatsby was on his dock reaching out to the green light across the Sound (because the light is the light on the end of Daisy’s dock). Jordan then tells Nick that Gatsby wanted him to arrange a meeting for himself and Daisy at Nick’s house. In Chapter 5, the night Nick returns home after talking to Jordan, he sees that Gatsby’s mansion is lit from top to bottom. Nick is approached by an eager and nervous Gatsby, and Nick tells him that he has spoken with Jordan. In return for helping him, Gastby offers Nick an under-the-table job that hasn’t anything to do with Wolfsheim.

Nick is offended by his wish to pay him back for setting up the meeting, and declines the offer. On the day that Gatsby and Daisy are to meet, it begins to rain. When Daisy first arrives, the tension and conversations are very awkward between them. Gatsby is so nervous to be around Daisy that he knocks over Nick’s clock. Nick tells Gatsby to calm down, and leaves them alone for a short while. When Nick returns, he sees that they have just finished hugging and Daisy has joyful tears on her cheeks. They are much more relaxed and comfortable around one another, and they head over to Gatbsy’s mansion.

Gatsby shows them around, first at some luxurious shirts imported from Europe, and Daisy bursts into tears. Then looking out from a window, Gatsby tells Daisy that he can see the green light at the end of her dock when the night air is clear. After, Gatsby wakes Ewing Klipspringer so he can play “Ain’t We Got Fun” on the piano. While the music floats around in the room, Nick thinks to himself that Daisy will not be able to live up to Gatsby’s standards and forget the last five years has ever happened. As Gatsby and Daisy get closer, Nick realizes it is time for him to leave and starts walking home.

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