In this chapter, Jay Gatsby remains fundamentally a mystery. Few of the partygoers have met their host, and Gatsby stands aloof from his own celebration. He does not drink, he does not dance, he remains an observer. The man himself stands in stark contrast to the sinister gossip Nick has heard about him. Gatsby is young and handsome, with a beautiful smile that seems to radiate hope and optimism. Nick falls instantly in love with Gatsby's smile, remarking that it has "a quality of eternal reassurance in it." Gatsby's innate hopefulness is contagious.
Though Nick implies throughout the novel that wealth and ostentation tend to mask immorality ...view middle of the document...
It exemplifies the spirit of conspicuous consumption, and is a queer mix of the lewd and the respectable. Though catered to by butlers and serenaded by professionally trained singers, the guests are drunk, crude, and boisterous. The orchestra plays a work by Tostoff called The Jazz History of the World; though it had had a fantastic reception at Carnegie Hall, the piece is the antithesis of classical respectability.
At the time of The Great Gatsby's publication, cars were still novelty items; in the novel, they are imbued with a sense of luxurious danger. A car accident disturbs the end of the party, when a drunken man crashes his car into a ditch. Nick admonishes Jordan for being an unspeakably awful driver, and her near-accident serves as a metaphor for the behavior of her contemporaries. Jordan is a careless driver because she considers caution the responsibility of others; she feels that the onus is on them to keep out of her way.
The chapter also reinforces Nick's position an objective and reliable narrator: it ends with his claim that he is one of the few honest people he has ever known. Jordan Baker, by contrast, is compulsively dishonest; the fact that she cheated to win her first golf tournament is entirely unsurprising. She assumes that everyone else is as dishonest as she: she automatically concludes that Gatsby's books, like the better part of her own personality, exist merely for the sake of appearance.