Across the horizon: the rising sun and endless possibilities
 
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\Studyworld\ Studyworld Studynotes \ Great Gatsby, The:
Chapter 6

Nick begins this chapter by telling the reader about Gatsby's past, a story which he does not hear until the end of that summer. Jay Gatsby had actually begun life as James Gatz, an ambitious, middle-class young man from North Dakota who had come East to find easy money and position. His parents had been small-town farmers, but he had always had dreams that were bigger than North Dakota, and what set him apart from everyone else was his faith in his aspirations. He left home in pursuit of his dream - he kept adding to his dream so that it had become too large for him to define. All he knew is that he wanted to go East and make money. He had attended St. Olaf's College in southern Minnesota but had dropped out soon after enrolling because he had hated his menial term-time job and wanted something bigger.
He had met Dan Cody while Cody was on his yacht, and James Gatz, who took a boat out to Cody's yacht to warn him of an impending storm, introduced himself as Jay Gatsby - his self-created persona. Cody took a liking to him and became his mentor; the two traveled around the world together, and Gatsby served as his personal assistant and steward. When Cody died, he left $25,000 to Gatsby but had left the majority of his wealth to his mistress. But it wasn't Cody's money that Gatsby had treasured from their relationship - he gained the vision of what he wanted to become, and Jay Gatsby was born.
Nick doesn't find this information out about Gatsby until later in the story but tells it to the reader because he doesn't want the audience to be fooled by suspicious speculation regarding Gatsby's past. For a few weeks after he re-introduces Gatsby to Daisy (time is unclear in Fitzgerald's writing - a few weeks to him can mean a few days or a few months), he doesn't hear from Gatsby and spends much of his time with Jordan Baker. He finally goes over to Gatsby's house on a Sunday afternoon, and Tom Buchanan stops by with the Sloanes, who are two of his upper-crust, East Egg friends. Nick is surprised to see them but is even more surprised by the fact that Tom has never stopped by Gatsby's house before.
Gatsby, who is extremely nervous, tries to ingratiate himself to the three of them because he admires both their wealth and their social position. He tries to casually tell Tom that he knows Daisy, but Tom seems indifferent to him and doesn't seem to think of him as important. Mrs. Sloane insists that Gatsby and Nick have dinner with them, and Nick graciously refuses. Gatsby, however, jumps at the opportunity to go with them and asks them to wait while he gets his jacket. When he leaves the room, Tom rudely comments that he can't believe that Gatsby is actually coming with them because they have made it obvious to him that they don't want him to come along with them, even though they had invited him. He is even more disturbed by the fact that someone like Gatsby would know Daisy and would claim to have a connection to her. Tom and the snooty Sloanes decide to leave without him, and as Gatsby comes running down the driveway with his jacket in hand, they had already left, leaving him disappointed and even more aware of the divide between West Egg and East Egg.
The story jumps ahead to a party at Gatsby's house that Tom, Daisy, and Nick attend. Daisy is amazed by the number of beautiful celebrities and dazzling stars at the party, but Tom attempts to appear unimpressed by everyone and tries to make insinuating remarks about Gatsby's money and the sketchy characters who frequent his parties. Daisy merely responds to his criticism by telling him to mingle with everyone, even giving him a pen so that he can write down the phone number of the pretty girls he meets at the party. Even though Daisy seems mesmerized by the people at the party, Nick also realizes that she was appalled by West Egg because its raw raciness is completely unlike conservative, aristocratic East Egg, and she is frightened by the simplicity that she cannot understand.
After Tom and Daisy leave, Nick stays behind to talk to Gatsby, and Nick finally realizes that all Gatsby wants to hear from Daisy is to know that she had never loved Tom - while he had been away in Europe, she had still pined after him. Nick tells him that he can't expect too much of Daisy because it is impossible to repeat the past, and Gatsby, who believes that money can accomplish anything, quickly tells him that it is perfectly possible to repeat the past and that he intends on re-igniting the passion that he and Daisy had once felt.
Gatsby tells Nick more about his relationship with Daisy while he had been a young soldier. He had fallen in love with her because she had represented everything that he wanted - she was the most beautiful, wealthy, and privileged girl in Louisville - and she was completely untouchable, which made him want her more. Before he had kissed Daisy, he had let his imagination run wild with the possibility of having her and had reveled in the dreams that he held for their love, but when he finally kissed her, he knew that he had to attain those dreams. He had become human and given up his mortality because he had fallen in love with a woman whose love he had to win with ambition and determination.

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Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9


 

 



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