Chapter 3 unveils the mystery that is “Jay Gatsby”. Well, Gatsby, as an individual anyway. His background however remains unknown in this chapter. This chapter explains Gatsby and why he is so popular among a hedonistic society of the west and east egg.
Gatsby is an individual, set for everyone to know he is indeed wealthy. The reader is given an emphasis on his wealth by the parties he’d throw at the weekends. Gatsby would go to great lengths at his parties if it would mean importing food from the finest of countries, to the champagne and the “liquors with cordials so long forgotten that most of his female guests were too young to know one from another”, to his large buffets or to hiring an orchestra to perform at his own party.
Items of this kind were not common among average men like nick caraway at this point in time such as His Rolls Royce which symbolised indeed his wealth. It shows a character who gained his wealth during the economic boom of the 1920’s with the development of new modern day technology at the time. Gatsby, drawn in, conspicuously consumes, buying this newly modern built technology whether it’d be his Rolls Royce or his newly purchased hydroplane. Items like the hydroplane would not be deemed necessary but Gatsby who purposely buys these items for everyone to know that he indeed wealthy.
The reader is given an insight into Gatsby’s character through his wealth; the reader is giving the impression that Gatsby is a character who throws these parties to be accepted by this hedonistic society. A society, old and young who couldn’t care less for who or what Gatsby is but are merely here to show up to be wild and have fun. Gatsby willingly allows individuals to enter his house, this perhaps as an attempt to gain popularity or perhaps an emphasis on how wealthy he is. Gatsby feels that if he throws large extravagant parties that he’ll be accepted by the community but in reality neither Nick or Jordan actually knew who or what Gatsby looked liked despite the fact Nick is Gatsby’s neighbour. The reader is given an insight into what truly the community think of Gatsby and that he isn’t as “popular” as he may want to be. Gatsby becomes upset at the fact that his own Neighbour didn’t know of his existence despite the fact he stood right in front of him and delivered the invitation to come to his party by his chauffeur. The delivery by his chauffeur obviously an action to flaunt his acquired wealth.
Gatsby is an individual of great secrecy, as the other individuals in his home, eat, drink and be merry while Gatsby stands alone, watching from the sidelines the reader is given an insight into Gatsby as a character. Surely the host would want to join the festivities and yet Gatsby does not. The reader is left to question “why?” Similarly, Nick notices Gatsby refrains from drinking. Nick Carraway observes Gatsby as a Jazz piece is played and everyone is slowly dancing “no one swooned on Gatsby, no French bob touched his shoulder…” there wasn’t any women surrounding the host of the party. Gatsby again stands at the sidelines. The reader is given an insight into the fact that there is something more to this man than his hydroplane or his “Gothic library” of unread books. The reader is given an insight into perhaps, if he did become drunk perhaps, his secrets may just be revealed.
Because of Gatsby’s lack of involvement in his own parties, no-one seems to know who or what is “Gatsby” early on in the chapter. His lack of involvement creates a mystery to Gatsby as no one knows his background or more importantly Gatsby’s source of wealth.
Rumours are then created in which involved the background of Gatsby. The 1920’s saw the new age in entertainment and media in which brought about the development of gossip. Average everyday working class citizens would find out about the lives of the rich and the famous. If there wasn’t anything, they’d make up stories of their own. Similarly, has Gatsby fallen for this ploy in which his background (unknown) is created by the hedonists who dwell among him these same individuals who he’d invite to his now claim that “he killed a man once” or that Gatsby is a German spy. The reader is left to question if the stories are from the hedonists of from Gatsby himself.
Gatsby, his character, his behaviour, and his wealth are all commented on a perceived by Nick Carraway and the “gypsies” at the party. The reader is told of Gatsby through nicks account. Nick comments on Gatsby and that “I could see nothing Sinister about him”. Considering Nick is already writing about an event that already taken place suggests by using the word “sinister” Nick has given the reader an insight into perhaps Gatsby’s true persona.
Nick comments on Gatsby’s rare smile. A smile in which had a “quality of reassurance” in it. The Significance of this smile is that you wouldn’t question an Individual with these rare smiles as this would assure you that nothing is wrong. You’d think the party guests would question their host who doesn’t seem to want to be involved but Nick suggests by Gatby having this rare smile. It’s an assurance that indeed nothing is wrong.
However Nick also comments on Gatsby’s use of language. Nick comments on Gatsby’s receptive use of words like “old sport” and that he seemed to be carefully picking his words. This relates to Gatsby’s Secrecy as it may suggest he must choose his words correctly for his secrets not to be revealed. Similarly, Gatsby, who wants to create an image for him would want to convey himself as an intelligent human being towards Nick and the rest of the society.
Nick refuses to accept young men could “driftly-colly out of nowhere and buy a Palace on Long Island Sound” and through one phone call it suggests Gatsby is a man connected overseas. Considering his food is imported and the alcohol present, at the time the story was based trading, importing, and consumption of alcohol was deemed illegal in 1920’s New York. However every weekend the hedonists consume alcohol with ease suggesting Gatsby is somehow connected to organised crime or rather “boot-legging”.
The reader is given an insight into Gatsby and life in the 1920’s. If everyone in the city was well aware of Gatsby’s parties and the consumption of Alcohol where were the Police to stop Gatsby and arrest him? In the 1920’s America it saw a rise in Organised Crime. Corruption in the police forces Meant, policemen where easily “persuaded” to turn the blind eye to wealthy individuals such as Gatsby through Organised crime groups or families through means of bribery, murder, intimidation and extortion. “boot-legging” saw a rise in criminal activity in cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Chicago (Trenton police museum – 2003). Surprisingly enough, Gatsby receives an important call from Chicago referencing to his involvement in organised crime. Which then backs evidence to suggest that, here lays a man dabbling in “Dark forces”.
To conclude, Gatsby is a mysterious, wealthy, “intelligent” individual. Items in which he buys who others wouldn’t deem necessary he buys anyway. Gatsby is a character set out to make an image in this chapter through his wealth, speech and behaviour. Gatsby’s background still remains a mystery. However, pieces to the puzzle and put together for the reader to unearth the origin of Gatsby and his wealth.