The Great Gatsby – Chapters Four and Five

To this point in the novel, most of what we’ve been told about Gatsby comes from other sources; that is about to change. While another character, Meyer Wolfsheim, “…the man who fixed the World Series back in 1919…” is introduced to add another layer to Gatsby’s identity as supplied by others, Gatsby shares details directly with Nick. These are equally as unreliable as those glimpses offered by others.

The narrator is asked to take part in what becomes the turning point in The Great Gatsby. Jordan acts as emissary for Jay Gatsby as she convinces Nick to arrange for a meeting between his cousin Daisy and Gatsby who we learn have a past, one very similar to the real life beginning of F. Scott and Zelda.

Chapter 5, the mid-point of the book, sets up the rest of the novel as we’ll discover in Tuesday night’s discussion.

Mark Thomas

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, http://dmarkthomas.com/, reflects his deep interest and knowledge of how the past influences the present. Mark can be contacted at Mark@dmarkthomas.com

Comments

The Great Gatsby – Chapters Four and Five — 43 Comments

  1. “Meyer Wolfsheim” is again a real person – Jewish gangster Arnold Rothstein – who was the brains behind the Black Sox scandal – and who was murdered in 1928 over gambling debts. Due to the similar names many assume Meyer Wolfsheim is the much more successful and longer living Meyer Lansky (d. 1983)As the old Lower East Side has gentrified, long time restaurant Ratners closed, and was replaced by a high class cigar bar called Lansky’s Lounge – which has since closed as well.

    • I am truly indebted to your wonderful insight of the setting for The Great Gatsby. I made a fast there and back visit to Long Island in 1991 when I picked up my seven year old daughter who was living there, but I never had the chance to truly explore New York.

      My father is a graduate of King’s Point, (1950), and he described a New York of the late ’40s. I’m raising the rank of a visit on my bucket list as a direct result of your informed descriptions of the area, both past and present. Thank you, Evan!

      • I am not sure how much LI has changed since 1991. Certainly more vineyards on the East End but the Gold Coast is largely stable and settled – save for the occasional mansion demolished because its not grand enough for a new owner.

        NYC was somewhere in the lower rings of Dante’s Inferno in 1991. I was a HS student and couldnt wait to get away. The city had a great run of about 20 years – I’m starting to wonder if its slipping out of our hands again

  2. Now that Daisy’s married, she’s a social queen. In the 20s? Almost everyone’s money is tainted. As long as you don’t anger the people at the top of the ladder, and nobody talks about the source of your money, you can keep your social status.

    • Thanks for the added information about Daisy social status. I do not know much about this period. I have yet to read up on it. It is a fascinating time that is for sure!

      • One of my more favorite and fairly short books about the 1920’s is Frederick Lewis Allen’s “Only Yesterday.” I believe that you’d really enjoy this “informal history of the 1920s.”

    • At least for this novel, I wonder about the source of money in context with the “social rules” of those with “old money.” I think that this becomes an issue later in the book.

  3. We’ve gone past our scheduled time, though I’m always happy to see the conversation grow beyond thirty minutes. Still, I want to be respectful of your time and so I invite you to add further comments later on.

    Let’s get together Thursday night to discuss chapter six!

    Thank you all for another great discussion.

  4. Once again, Evan Frankl, a very knowledgeable source as one would suspect from a librarian, provides these geographic and biographical gems:
    “Evan Frankl • What many people who are not from the metro NYC area do not realize is that almost everyplace mentioned in the book is a real place with just the names changed.

    West Egg is the Great Neck Peninsula
    East Egg is the Port Washington Peninsula
    The Valley of the Ashes is now Flushing Meadows Park – Citifield – National Tennis Center
    The old Northern Road is now called Northern Boulevard and runs from the East River to eastern LI

    Fitzgerald never confirmed which mansion was his inspiration for the Gatsby house so many houses have claimed the title over the years. None were ever given landmark designation. Most have since been torn down, because land on the north shore of LI is so valuable even multimillionaires dont have estates like that anymore.”

    • Thanks for the explanaition. Makes sense now. I think Daisy might be overwhelmed about what has transpired. Nick leaves them alone so there is no worry so far. Looking forward to more reading. It’s melancholy but I can sence the emotions in the story and its realistic.

  5. For me, having read this novel before, I’m enjoying the read even more as I can really appreciate how F. Scott Fitzgerald works as a “social historian,” bringing Meyer Wolfsheim into the plot as “the man who fixed the 1919 World Series.” It makes me want to read “Eight Men Out.” (The film was just good.)

  6. I felt like the first 4 chapters were more information. The 5th chapter I feel like we are starting to see who Gatsby and Daisy are and how their lives have changed without each other in their lives. Prior to chapter 5 I was having a little bit of trouble keeping all of the characters straight.

    • I really appreciate your observation “…we are starting to see who Gatsby and Daisy are and how their lives have changed without each other in their lives.”

      • We see Daisy as a woman who settled for a husband of great financial means, but no real love. I dare say she settled for life as a trophy wife. The Great War took away her true love, Jay Gatsby. You can tell that even though 5 years have passed since Daisy and Gatsby last saw each other, the description of how Gatsby constantly observing Daisy’s every move-you can tell that he is deeply in love with her.

        • Gatsby is in love with Daisy. That much is seemingly apparent. What about Daisy? What do you feel her emotions are at this first reuniting?

          • I’m not well informed about Fitzgerald, but most reference to the author of The Great Gatsby refer to Fitzgerald’s own chance meeting of Zelda while he was stationed in the South during The Great War. Zelda refused his initial romantic advances, at least where marriage was concerned, as she felt he essentially didn’t make enough money. Fitzgerald revised a previously rejected novel and then found success – and wealth or the promise of wealth – by publishing “This Side of Paradise.” The two were wed shortly after its publication.

          • I think she originally felt that he was a sweet, brave boy and she was flattered by his attentions but maintained her “social princess” status. Now, I think she’s wondering if she made a mistake while being aware that she can’t really undo it at this point.

          • The question remains, then – can a “social princess” still be a social princess if her man’s wealth is tainted by the source of his income or his status being nouveau riche?

        • The question is whether or not she is still in love with him, or if being in love with him was a fantasy for her, some tragic daydreamy melodrama with her as the heroine.

    • I think the confusion of characters is intentional. We’re in some part intended to feel Nick’s midwestern bafflement and amusement at all of the people showing up randomly, running about aimlessly, all trying to impress each other and get whatever they can get.

  7. Valkyrie Page, you’ve read this before several times if I’m correct. Are there any new insights that caught your attention in either of tonight’s chapters?

    • I think that Chapter Four is a nice contrast to Five because Gatsby spins his silly dime store novel yarn about his sad past and his war heroism, and Chapter Five shows us more of who he really is.

  8. I’d like to thank Evan Frankl for his earlier comment regarding what we might call the geography of The Great Gatsby:
    “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.”

    • I had a question: Why does he refer to the setting as being east or west egg? What does egg refer to or why does he use that word? Anything significant?

      • I believe the “egg” references have to do with the geographic similarities between the two, egg-shaped juts into the bay. I’m going back in the comments to find a “legend” of the fictitious locations as they relate to real places on Long Island.

  9. Good evening! Pay no attention to the error behind the URL.
    As always, I’m looking forward to discussing chapter FOUR and FIVE with all of you at 8:00.