The Great Gatsby – Chapter Three

Though we’re teased into believing that – finally – Gatsby will be revealed to his guests, and therefore, to his readers, at the Saturday night gala, the title character proves even more elusive. What is gradually uncloaked are some of the major themes of The Great Gatsby.

The previous chapter further cemented our views of Tom Buchanan as a cruel hypocrite which only serves as an oblique manner of building the growing sense of sympathy for Tom’s fragile wife, Daisy.

In contrast to East Egg, the more prestigious of the two¬†peninsulas, the valley of ashes through which the train into New York runs and where Tom’s mistress, Myrtle Wilson and her husband live, appears under the gaze of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg – the subject of a large billboard near the Wilson’s garage and upstairs quarters.

For those not familiar with the fascinating back story of The Great Gatsby’s original dust-cover design, please enjoy this account of artist’s rendering and how it – not the finished novel – helped shape an American classic.

Chapter 3 can be seen as a commentary on society during the several years immediately following The Great War.


As I don’t care for Champagne, I’ve chosen my favorite cocktail to accompany my exploration of chapter three.

About Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas is a former active duty Marine, now a veteran teacher working in the Indianapolis, Indiana area. A professional writer in both print journalism and digital content writing, Mark combines his love of teaching history with his passion for the written word. His personal blog, History as Prologue,, reflects his deep interest and knowledge of how the past influences the present. Mark can be contacted at


The Great Gatsby – Chapter Three — 44 Comments

  1. To comment on the realism of Chapter 3 the Port Washington was a branch of the Long Island RR which was itself a branch of the Pennsylvania RR. Its terminal was in Port Washington (East Egg) and would travel through the Valley of the Ashes on its way to Penn Station Manhattan. The line is a busy commuter line today, and still stops in the Valley of the Ashes – the stop is now known as Citifield / US National Tennis Center.

    • Thank you, again, Evan for bringing to life the geography of The Great Gatsby.

      I’m reminded of the special feeling evoked by my visit to the then nearby La Jolla, California tidal flats. I was prompted to discover the natural wonders there after reading the reference in John Steinbeck’s hilarious novel, “Sweet Thursday.” I wondered if such a location really existed and when I saw the starfish and sand dollars at low tide, I felt a connection with a part of literature.

      • From what I have been told by tourists to Steinbeck’s California is that “Cannery Row” still exists, but more as a tourist site living off the legacy of the book than any kind of natural commercial or residential block.

  2. Thank you all for joining in on this discussion! Your participation makes this a real joy.
    Next Tuesday will cover two chapter, 4 and 5, so I’m looking forward to your thoughts on who Gatsby really is and why he does the things he does.
    In the meantime, feel free to add any thoughts that come to you regarding The Great Gatsby.
    Again, I sincerely appreciate your contributions! Enjoy your weekend!

  3. I realize that we’ve gone past or agreed upon end time, but for anyone who so desires, now of during the next few days, what about Gatsby and the notion that he, too, might be using people?

  4. The people at the party are there to have a great time, take advantage of Gatsby’s generosity, mix and mingle to make connections, and are out for all they can get. I think people want to impress Nick because they don’t know who he is. He was invited to the party so he must be “somebody,” but they don’t know who, nor what he could do for them.

      • Speaking of using people, and I think that we’re all in agreement that many have simply “taken” from Gatsby, but does anyone want to comment on how Gatsby might be using…?

        • We don’t know enough about him except that Nick hint he isn’t all he seems to be, when Nick observes there was nothing sinister about him in the beginning. But we already know that Nick loathes the man!

          • Really? I was unclear as to Nick’s estimation of Gatsby – though my perception is likely the result of having read the book before. I didn’t pick up the idea that Nick loathed Gatsby, although he was quick to see through several of Gatsby’s affectations.

    • I want to bring up the several phone calls from across the country that call away Gatsby. How effective was this as a writing technique?

    • I don’t think there’s any getting around the Fitzgerald, though not the irredeemable misogynist Hemingway was, was not progressive in his views of women. As only and explanation, his portrayal was likely influenced by Zelda’s alleged affair with a French aviator had while Gatsby was being written.

  5. Was the man with the owl shaped glasses marveling that the books in the library weren’t fake more foreshadowing of the lies to come?

    • Crystal, I believe you’re spot on with your observation. I don’t want to spoil any future parts of the book, but the party, more than any other purpose served, established some of the main themes of the novel, including what one might label “integrity” as shown by the “real” books.

  6. While I’m now past the point of enjoying such levels of revelry, I have to admit that recognized from personal experiences had long ago some of the behaviors. As for this particular party, I don’t think that I was alone in hoping to have Gatsby revealed. Of course, he only became more enigmatic.

    • I was wondering if people really did and do that…just show up to lavish parties. It is as if no one cares so anyone can come and invent themselvs. Nick being a veteran seems to have people around him trying to impress him. Gatsby has a secret in which he revealed to Jordan. At this point he is still mysterious to me.

      • Oh, yes, there were often crashers at parties, particularly in the 1920s. In fact, when they filmed the parties for the film in the 1970s with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, wealthy people who weren’t even signed up as extras came and partied, leaving behind designer chic bits of clothing scattered here and there on the lawn as they drunkenly faded their way home in the early hours of the morning.