How is Gatsby Presented to the Reader in Chapter 4
How is Gatsby Presented to the Reader in Chapter 4

How is Gatsby Presented to the Reader in Chapter 4

Available Only on StudyHippo
  • Pages: 4 (1735 words)
  • Published: October 24, 2017
Text preview

Fitzgerald employs a unique and captivating method to present one of the central characters of the book; Jay Gatsby whose name is persistently surrounded by rumours up until Chapter 4. He is an elusive image within the readers mind and his persistent determination to achieve the American Dream is a primary foundation of the novel. Chapter 4 is the first momentous encounter between the narrator of the novel, Nick, and Gatsby.

Firstly, Chapter 4 inaugurates with Nick referring back to a party of Gatsby’s where a couple of young ladies are conjecturing about Gatsby’s past of being ‘a bootlegger’ and ‘second cousin to the devil’ along with indicting him of having ‘killed a man who had found out he was nephew to Von Hindenburg’. The use of the word devil along with accusations of murder and bootlegging confuse the reader; they aren’t sure what to believe about him. ‘Devil’ implies nefariousness and suggests something sinister about Gatsby.

It gives the reader the impression that not only is Gatsby malevolent; he drags other people into sinful deeds along with him. Secondly, throughout the first few chapters of the novel, the reader is presented with conflicting viewpoints of Gatsby, ensuring that they can’t cement an idea of Gatsby in their head. The speculative rumours at the start of the chapter serve to remind the reader that no one knows anything for sure about Gatsby. Nick then proceeds to list the names of people who visited Gatsby’s party one summer. The list conveys the scope of Gatsby’s eminence with the rich folk of East

...

and West Egg.

Furthermore, it shows the reader the type of people Gatsby attracts. The inclusion of people such as Doctor Civet ‘who was drowned last summer up in Maine’ and Earl Muldoon whose ‘brother strangled his wife’ and Palmetto ‘who killed himself by jumping in front of a subway train’ exemplify that the people who choose to spend time in the company of Gatsby are to some extent psychopathic. Through these devices, until now, the reader has a vaguely negative image of Jay Gatsby. In addition, the symbol of the car in Chapter 4 also helps present Gatsby to the reader.

Gatsby is the proud owner of a ‘rich cream color, bright with nickel’ Rolls-Royce. It advertises his status in society and how well he has achieved the American Dream. The cream colour of the car, along with the bright nickel connotes a calm, sophisticated albeit opulent atmosphere that Gatsby so incessantly wishes to be associated with his name. Upon arrival, the car ‘gave out a burst of melody from its three-noted horn’. The car represents the materialism and excessive obsession with wealth that was so infused in the culture at that time.

It gives the reader the impression that Gatsby has surrounded himself with all kinds of mammon to project an ostentatious image of himself to the world; the three-noted horn represents Gatsby’s eagerness to be seen or heard. Nick, referring to the car, mentions that ‘everyone had seen it’. The use of the language ‘everyone’ implies that Gatsby’s name has spread and imbued itself into the grapevine of New York and

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay
View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

Long Island. From this statement the reader understands that if everyone knows about his car, they must also know about his wealth and power; it highlights how recognized Gatsby is in his society.

This is imperative to Gatsby as his sole purpose is to captivate Daisy’s attention, showing the extent that Gatsby is willing to go for her. Along with this, Nick describes Gatsby’s manner of sitting on his car as ‘peculiarly American’ that comes with the ‘absence of lifting work’ and ‘with the formless grace of our nervous, sporadic games’. Nick also mentions how these qualities are ‘continually breaking through his punctilious manner in the shape of restlessness’ or in the form of a ‘tapping foot’ and ‘opening and closing of a hand’; Gatsby’s constant deceits affect him on a physical level.

Use of the words ‘breaking through’ suggests that the real Gatsby has been ensconced by a layer of someone else. Like shattering through the ice on top of a frozen lake, Gatsby’s true personality is continuously struggling to divulge itself. This tells the reader that there are two sides to Gatsby, a dual personality: his true side which he wants to hide from the public, and the side of him he wants portrayed to the world. However he isn’t always able to hide his true side. Along with this, through chapter 3 and 4, there is a significant change in Gatsby’s method of diction.

When Nick first encounters Gatsby in chapter 3, he describes his manner of speaking as having an ‘elaborate formality of speech [that] just missed being absurd’. The fact that he addresses everyone as ‘sport’ suggests that he feels the need to constantly appear sociable to the world; he ensures that a conversation with him is remembered. He feels the need to be accepted into the society as he wasn’t born into wealth and uses familiar terms like ‘sport’ to form a more personal connection with his audience.

This exemplifies Gatsby as a punctilious, formal man in the readers mind. However, as the novel progresses in Chapter 4, Nick describes a distinct alteration in the way Gatsby speaks and presents himself. Nick mentions that he had found to his disappointment that Gatsby ‘had little to say’. He also states: ‘So my first impression, that he [Gatsby] was a person of some undefined consequence, had gradually faded and he had become simply the proprietor of an elaborate road-house next door’.

This statement is one of the first contradictions of any previous image of Gatsby that is etched in the reader’s mind; thus leaving their image of Gatsby in a befuddled state. Use of the words ‘simple proprietor of an elaborate road-house’ give the impression of Gatsby as nothing more than a simple object who can be used for his riches. The fact that Nick is disappointed after he finds that the image he had built up about Gatsby was merely a visage links with the theme of the American Dream and how expectations aren’t always fulfilled.

Additionally, Gatsby’s elaborate story about his past and the proof he produces to substantiate his story have an effect on how the reader understands Gatsby.

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay