Nick Carraway recalls in his mind the names of the people whom he has seen
at Gatsby's parties. They appear to be from all walks of life; businessmen,
wealthy East Eggers, theater people, a doctor, and even royalty. He wonders
how Gatsby has come to know so many people and why there are so many negative
rumors about him.
One morning, Gatsby surprises Nick and pays him a visit. He drives up in
his "gorgeous" cream-colored car and invites Nick for lunch and
a drive to New York City. During the drive, Gatsby tells Nick about himself.
He says that he comes from San Francisco and that his family is wealthy. He
attended Oxford and after all of his family members died, his inheritance
paid for his stay in Europe until World War I broke out. He then entered the
army as a lieutenant and was stationed in France. He shows Nick a medal that
he received from Montenegro and a photograph from Oxford to substantiate his
story. He also tells Nick that Jordan Baker has something important to tell
him and that he has arranged for Nick to have tea with her.
On the way, a policeman stops Gatsby for speeding. Instead of issuing a ticket,
he apologizes to Gatsby after seeing his identification. Gatsby explained
that he had done the police commissioner a favor and this was his way of thanking
When they reach New York, they go to a rather expensive restaurant for lunch.
Carraway meets a friend of Gatsby, a man by the name of Meyer Wolfsheim. His
appearance, the way he speaks and the way he is dressed, is not suitable for
someone of Gatsby's claimed background. Nick finds out later from Gatsby that
Meyer is simply an acquaintance. When Nick asks him what he does for a living,
Garsby casually tells him that he is a gambler and the man who fixed the World
Series in 1919. Nick is taken aback when he hears all this. Near the end of
the meal, after Wolfsheim has left them, Nick sees Tom. He beckons to him
with the intent of introducing him to Gatsby, but when he turns back to him,
Gatsby is gone.
When Nick meets Jordan for tea that afternoon, she tells him the details
of her conversation with Gatsby on the night of the party. Apparently Gatsby
and Daisy Buchanan had been well acquainted before the War. Gatsby at that
time was a young lieutenant waiting to go to the front, and Daisy was "just
eighteen ... by far the most popular of all the young girls in Louisville."
They had fallen in love. Unfortunately, Gatsby did not have the financial
means to marry a girl of Daisy's class. When he was sent overseas, Daisy had
decided that she could not wait, and married Tom Buchanan instead.
Jordan then tells Nick that Gatsby, still in love with Daisy, wants him to
invite Daisy to his place some afternoon and then let Gatsby "conveniently"
drop in. Nick agrees to set things up.
The chapter begins with an additional reminder that Gatsby is a mysterious,
shady presence and possibly dangerous. The presence of Meyer Wolfsheim supports
the idea that Gatsby is involved with shady dealings. In comparison with the
other characters, Wolfsheim is vulgar and unrefined. He immediately speaks
about murders and crimes, yet does so in a sentimental manner. His speech
is slurred and low-class, and his proud display of his cufflinks made from
human molars is borderline grotesque.
The character is an exaggeration, meant to emphasize Gatsby's disreputable
dealings, more a symbol such as the green light or the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg
than a fully realized character such as Carraway or Gatsby. Wolfsheim also
serves to place the novel in a historical context; the mention of the 1919
World Series was a recent and quite notable scandal to Fitzgerald's contemporaries.
In this chapter, Gatsby finally gives his first account of his personal
history, refuting the previous wild rumors about his past. Yet his account
is entirely unconvincing. Gatsby claims to have had a wholesome upbringing
in the middle west (his idea of the middle west is San Francisco), and the
claim that all of his family is dead seems inconvenient.
Furthermore, this does not explain how such wild accusations concerning his
reputation have arisen. Jordan Baker even contradicts parts of Gatsby's stories
when she tells Nick how she met Gatsby. According to her, she met Gatsby in
America when he was a soldier; Gatsby tells Nick that he enlisted in the war
while traveling through Europe. In addition, she indicates that there is something
in Gatsby's past that made Daisy's parents oppose her romance with him.
Jordan's tale about Daisy and Gatsby seems disjointed and incoherent. Only
the first anecdote (about Daisy leaving Red Cross work to meet him) relates
directly to Gatsby. However, Jordan does seem to relate Daisy's breakdown
at her wedding to Gatsby, and Gatsby's move to New York to Daisy. There seems
to be a great romantic longing between the two, yet (as shown by Gatsby's
sudden disappearance when Tom arrives at the restaurant) some reason for the
inability of the two to meet directly.
An infatuation for Daisy explains a great deal of Gatsby's behavior. When
he was watching the light in the first chapter, he was in fact gazing over
at the Buchanan's mansion across the bay. Gatsby throws his constant parties
for the sole purpose of finding a connection to Daisy Buchanan, which he found
in both Jordan Baker and Nick Carraway.
Fitzgerald sets up the romance between Gatsby and Daisy largely from Gatsby's
point of view: it is the driving force in Gatsby's life and his great obsession.
The admission that Nick Carraway is to arrange a meeting between Gatsby and Daisy places his friendship with Gatsby in a questionable light. It appears that Gatsby is using Nick merely to get to Daisy, yet Nick holds no ill will toward Gatsby for his behavior.
Jordan Baker occupies an ambiguous role for Nick Carraway; he has an interest
in her, but this interest stems from her negative qualities ï¿½ her scorn and
sarcasm ï¿½ and he is painfully aware that he does not have great concern for
her. Nick and Jordan contrast with the presumed passionate and consuming romance
between Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. The only emotion that Nick can evoke
for Jordan is curiosity.