The Great Gatsby

by: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Five Key Questions

1) How does Nick Carraway first meet Jay Gatsby?

Nick is Gatsby’s neighbor, and he first sees him out on the lawn one dark night, reaching his arms toward a green light across the water. However, despite seeing his silhouette, and despite hearing many rumors about him, the two men do not meet until Nick attends one of Gatsby’s summer parties. The actual moment of their acquaintance proves awkward. Nick mistakes Gatsby for another guest, telling the stranger that “this man Gatsby sent over his chauffeur with an invitation,” but that he “hasn’t even seen the host” yet. Gatsby announces himself and apologizes for being a poor host. Now knowing that this stranger is Gatsby, Nick notes a subtle contradiction in the man’s behavior. On the one hand, Gatsby has an earnest smile that exhibits “a quality of eternal reassurance.” Yet Gatsby’s “elaborate formality of speech” also indicates “that he was picking his words with care,” and hence may not be as earnest—or honest—as he first appears.