Fitzgerald introduces accounts of Gatsby’s character through a first person viewpoint. As first person narration has its limitations, when Nick does not have all the facts he uses other sources in the form of different narrative voices. Nick, Jordan and Wolfsheim all contribute to creating the image of Gatsby in chapter 4. What we can depict from this chapter is that Fitzgerald has divided it into 3 sections. The first, listing the guests who attended Gatsby’s party in July and the rumours circling around that “One time he killed a man”.
A recurring scene that we see throughout the whole novel is that he attracts the rich and powerful people. However, they are simply using Gatsby for his status and wealth and these people know nothing about Gatsby, and don’t seem to entertain the idea of wanting to know him other than taking part in idle gossip. The second section is the drive to New York where Gatsby introduces Nick to Wolfsheim.
Through Nick’s first encounter with Wolfsheim we start to see links to a criminal and dangerous past of Gatsby’s.
Gatsby and Wolfsheim’s interaction is a strong indication to illegal work they may have done together in the past. The character of Wolfsheim is also created in our meeting of him as he wears “Finest specimens of human molars” as cufflinks, and quite openly reminisces about the killing of a gangster. Through Fitzgerald’s description of Wolfsheim’s appearance and lifestyle, it suggests that Wolfsheim is a violent, corrupt and dangerous man to be around; in spite of this he speaks very highly of Gatsby indicating they had a past together, which represents the alternate sides to Gatsby.
Fitzgerald shows the development between Nick and Jordan Baker’s relationship in the third section of this chapter, as she takes control to narrate the history of Daisy and Gatsby’s relationship to Nick. Jordan illustrates Gatsby to be a hopeless romantic who worships Daisy. His infatuation and love for Daisy later leads on to him taking the blame for her after Myrtle’s death. This is the moment in the story where our ideas are confirmed that Gatsby’s aim is to evoke his love with Daisy.
To do this, Fitzgerald tells us of the plan to bring Daisy and Gatsby together, through Nick and Jordan’s narration “She’s not supposed to know about it…You’re just supposed to invite her to tea”. F. Scott Fitzgerald presents the audience with a fictional story of Gatsby’s upbringing that we may believe is used as a disguise to be able to fit in to what 1920’s society expects of New Money. Gatsby paints himself as “the son of some wealthy people” who has been brought up in an influential background where he has fortunately been very privileged with a good education.
As the audience, it is clear that Nick is aware of this story being untrue, especially about Gatsby having been “educated at Oxford”. Yet it was the photo “of half a dozen young men in blazers” at Oxford and the medal from Montenegro, that made him believe the possibilities of Gatsby’s story. Although in this chapter Gatsby is perceived to be someone who has many sides to his character, Nick can also be seen as an unreliable narrator as he is very optimistic about Gatsby.
He focuses very much on the hopeful and romantic side of him whereas he seems to bypass most of the undesirable aspects and explain them in little detail. This is down to Fitzgerald continuous presentation of Nick’s positive thoughts about Gatsby being a decent man. As a reader, Fitzgerald expertly makes us become increasingly attached to the ‘great’ mystery of the man who has so many hidden secrets. The themes in chapter 4 visibly represent the roaring 20’s and the hierarchy of new money, and having a different past and future.
Gatsby clearly personifies the righteousness of the American Dream because he is a gentleman and far less self-absorbed than those who turn up to his “lavish” parties simply to use his status and wealth to gain some sort of acknowledgement. The incredible wealth of Gatsby is portrayed in his material items, especially his “rich cream colour, bright with nickel” Rolls-Royce. It is seen as another representation of Gatsby’s ‘out there’ attempt to win back Daisy. It symbolises Jay Gatsby’s great vision he has for what he touches.
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