When last we spoke, Gatsby and Daisy were reunited at last, and it was terrible. This time, Gatsby’s going to get punched in the face by life itself and then fall butt-first into a love triangle. Let’s proceed!
You know that scene in Tangled where rakish dreamboat Flynn Rider sacrifices himself for Rapunzel? Well, this chapter is a lot like that, but like if Flynn had said with his last dying breath, “You were my new dream,” to which Rapunzel replied, “Thanks, I guess. Thanks for chopping off my hair. Nobody asked you to do that, but thanks.”
Ergo, Daisy doesn’t appreciate the lengths to which Gatsby went to Become Something. Presumably this is because she’s a human being and not wish-fulfillment personified. Sure, she’s into him, but she’s unwilling to end her marriage with good ol’ Khaki Jeggings.
Before we can really dive into all that psychodrama, however, we have to deal with a young reporter showing up at Gatsby’s door. He heard some of the hot gossip about Gatsby in the city and decided to go ahead and ask Gatsby for a statement with no story, facts, or actual questions. I don’t think this is how you do news, but I’m not an expert.
Nick takes this opportunity to swoop in and remind us that he’s telling this story from some point in the vaguely distant future, so he knows what’s going to happen. Way to brag about it. He wants to “dispel the rumors” about Gatsby for us, which I’m in favor of—except he doesn’t do that at all, which I oppose. He tells us Gatsby grew up poor and lived on a farm. Much like how Flynn Rider used to be called Eugene Fitzherbert (can you tell I watched Tangled recently and loved every minute of it), Jay Gatsby was originally known as James Gatz. Then he hopped on a yacht with some rich dude, changed his name, decided he wanted to be rich one day too, and, well, the rest is history. Fantastic. We still know nothing, because Nick is useless. Now I’m just going to have to continue assuming that Gatsby acquired his riches through scrupulous means because he’s actually the village witch. I bet crazy-pants Tom Buchanan would be a better narrator than this.
Speaking of crazy pants , Nick’s hanging out at Gatsby’s mansion one day when Tom drops by with some friends. They’re all on horseback, which is apparently something that people do. A hilarious dynamic ensues wherein Gatsby really, really wants to tell Tom that he’s having an affair with his wife. Tom, for his part, just wants to hang out with Nick. And Nick? Well, Nick is bored. I’m going to reduce about three pages’ worth of awkwardness into just a few lines of dialogue, because if I edited out ALL the awkward parts of this book, there’d be no book left. Anyway.
GATSBY: So, Mr. Buchanan! I believe we’ve met somewhere before. TOM: If you say so. I meet a lot of people. I’m a delight, and everyone loves me. GATSBY: Does that include your wife? TOM: Probably. Anyway, I sort of remember you, actually. You were with Nick, right? Out to lunch? Man, that must’ve been something. Nick never invites me to lunch. NICK: I’m busy, Tom. You know that.
(Gatsby is staring intently at Tom. It’s… kind of weird.)
GATBSY: I know your wife, by the way. Have I mentioned that? I don’t think I’ve mentioned that. But I definitely know her. TOM: Cool. Say, Nick, do you live around here? NICK: Yep. Next door. TOM: How about that! GATSBY: Did you hear me, Tom? I said I know your wife. Sexually. TOM: Gatsby, can’t you see I’m trying to have a conversation with Nick over here? So, Nick. What’re you up to? You wanna hang out? We’re going to continue riding our horses. There’s a dinner party afterwards. Should be a good time. I’m wearing my super-tight riding trousers, I don’t know if you’ve noticed. NICK: I’ve noticed, and I’m not impressed. TOM: Oh. NICK: Also, I’m afraid I can’t. I’m busy.
(I don’t know Tom’s response to this, but I imagine he shrieks in anguish.)
GATSBY: What about me? I’d love to go! TOM: Uh. GATSBY: As long as I’m not too busy knowing your wife, that is.
And that’s how Gatsby winds up inviting himself along. Tom and his friends don’t want him to come because they can smell New Money all over him, but this social cue goes right over Gatsby’s head. He doesn’t have a horse, so he says he’ll have to follow them in his car, which is a fantastic visual I think we should all be thankful for. As Gatsby leaves to actually grab his car, Tom expresses disbelief that Gatsby’s actually grabbing his car. For once, Tom and I are on the same page. He wonders how Gatsby and Daisy know each other, and then he blesses us with the best thing since Nick’s car fetish: he says he may be old-fashioned, but women run around too much these days to suit him. They meet all sorts of “crazy fish.” I’m just going to let the fish thing stand on its own. Tom, you are literally in a relationship with two different women. You are a hypocrite and a scoundrel, sir, and a mess of a human being.
Tom and his two friends leave and tell Nick to tell Gatsby they couldn’t wait for him. Kind of a jerk move. Very middle school.
Tom decides to accompany Daisy to Gatsby’s party on Saturday, and Nick thinks maybe this is why no one has any fun at all, because Tom tends to have that effect. Gatsby shows them around and introduces them to important celebrities, but all Tom sees are a bunch of people who didn’t inherit their money from their parents and could at least have the good sense to die of shame. I think the funniest thing about this passage is that Gatsby keeps introducing Tom to everyone as “the polo player,” even though Tom doesn’t play polo and keeps telling Gatsby to stop calling him that. Incredible. There is absolutely no reason for any of this and I love it.
Daisy and Gatsby dance, and Nick, who has never seen Gatsby dance before, is surprised by his “graceful, conservative fox-trot.” This has no bearing on the plot, I just needed to point it out. While Gatsby is elsewhere, Tom, who’s taken quite a disliking to him, muses that Gatsby’s probably a bootlegger. Nick practically breaks his neck whipping his head around to correct him with “NOT GATSBY. NEVER GATSBY.” Daisy says that Gatsby owns a chain of drugstores, which sounds even more fake than my village witch theory. Tom says he’s going to make it a point to find out Gatsby’s backstory. I told you Tom would make a better narrator.
After the party, Nick and Gatsby break down the Daisy situation. I mean sure, Tom has money and influence and some sick riding trousers, but he’s also the worst, and Gatsby doesn’t understand why Daisy’s still with him. Nick realizes with some alarm that Gatsby won’t be happy until Daisy tells Tom she never loved him, effectively wiping out the last five years. Nick tells Gatsby you can’t repeat the past. Gatsby, shocked that Nick has never used a Time-Turner before, says, “Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can!”
The chapter ends with a flashback to Daisy and Gatsby’s first kiss, the gravity of which Gatsby will never be able to replicate because it exists only in memory. It’s very depressing, and I wish I was watching Tangled.
Old sports in this chapter: 1. Old sports overall: 26.
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