Chapter 5


Some key features for a critical approach to Chapter 5

(form structure language)


American Dream:

Materialism: Gatsby’s possessions.

Satire of an avaricious society: Gatsby’s inept attempt at compensating Nick financially for services rendered which at another time would have been one of the crises of his life’ 53.  The song: ‘The rich get richer …’ 61.  The acceptance of hidden illegal activities by celebrity society. The indolent life is exposed: ‘In the morning, In the evening, Ain’t we got fun’ 61 Further satire on the class system: Americans are said to be prepared to accept the enslavement of work as ‘serfs’ but not the inequality of being peasants’ 57

Social Drama / Urban context / Discourse on social and financial divisions

Quest: The ironic result of the quest. Gatsby at last meets Daisy again.   His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one,’ 60



  • Illegal activities/easy money:
  • Gatsby offers Nick easy money 53
  • ‘took me just three years to earn the money that bought’ the house. 58
  • ‘that’s my business’ 58
  • Telephone conversation about a ‘small town’ 60
  • Green light (ref 16)
  • ‘It had seemed as close as a star to the moon.  Now it was again a green light on a dock.

Gatsby’s and Daisy’s changing ‘states’ (see below)

  • Unknown words cause change in atmosphere from first to second state (see ‘Stages’ below).  Then the third state.  Daisy becomes a player on Gatsby’s set.


  • Narrative is in chronological order.  Occurs two days after the ‘one morning late in July’ (41) and two further days later: ‘the day after tomorrow’ 52
  • ‘the hour of a profound human change’ puts the events into urban context 61

First person narrator reflects/comments:

  • Nick identifies the stages of the meeting.  He reveals Gatsby’s illusion ‘had gone beyond her, beyond everything’ 62 and that both Gatsby and Daisy were ‘possessed by ‘intense life’ 62.  Does not know what was said between Gatsby and Daisy.  Leaves them together – narrator withdraws, causing a dramatic hiatus.

Comedy / Humour

  • Gatsby at Nick’s house.  Contrast e.g. lawns 53.

BEFORE the Daisy/Gatsby meeting


    • Gatsby before Daisy arrives.  Gasby looks ‘reproachfully the Finn’ 54  ‘Together we scrutinised the twelve lemon cakes’ 54  Gatsby attempts to return home 54


    • ‘bright ecstatic smile’ 54
    • The exhilarating ripple of her voice was a wild tonic in the rain’ 54
    • Streak of hair ‘like a dash of blue paint’ 55

THE FIRST STAGE of the Daisy/Gatsby meeting


  • ‘frightened but graceful’ 55.  voice has ‘artificial note’ 55


  • ‘pale as death’  ‘hands plunged like weights’ ‘glaring tragically into my eyes’ 55
  • ‘a strained counterfeit ofperfect ease’ Catches the ‘defunct’ clock 55
  • Haven’t met for ‘five years next November’ 56
  • ‘Got himself into a shadow’  ‘tense unhappy eyes’ ‘a terrible (x3) mistake’ 56

THE SECOND STAGE of the Daisy/Gatsby meeting


  • Face ‘smeared with tears’ ‘her throat, full of aching, grieving beauty, told only of her unexpected joy’ 57
  • Daisy impressed: ‘That huge place there?’   Daisy ‘admired’ (x3) aspects of ‘the feudal silhouette’, ‘the gardens’, …the sparkling odour … the pale gold odour.’ 58


  • ‘literally glowed’ ‘as if some question had been asked’ ‘a new well being radiated from him’ 57
  • ‘He hadn’t ceased looking at Daisy’ Gatsby stared at his possessions in a dazed way, as though in her actual and astounding presence none of it was any longer real.  ‘once he nearly toppled down a flight of stairs’ 59

THE THIRD STAGE of the Daisy/Gatsby meeting:  Gatsby ‘had passed visibly through two states and was entering upon a third’ 59


  • ‘Sobbed, her voice muffled’  ‘such … such ..such’ 59
  • Wants to put Gatsby in ‘one of those pink clouds’ and push him around in it. 60


  • ‘consumed with wonder at her presence’ ‘In reaction, he was running down like an overwound clock’ 59 (see clock in his first ‘state’)
  • Gatsby’s Clothes: ‘A man in England’ buys his clothes. .. ‘spring and fall’  Throws shorts one by one: ‘sheer linen … thick silk … fine flannel …’  Shirts with ‘stripes and scrolls and plaids ,,, and … and …and’ 59 
  • ‘Trembling match’  61
  • Sits where ‘there was no light’ 61 (cf ‘into a shadow’ of first ‘state’ 56)
  • ‘That voice held him most … that voice was a deathless song’ 62
  • He ‘commanded’ Klipspringer to play 61


  • Nick’s House and garden.  Lawn cut by Gatsby’s man.  ‘a greenhouse arrived’ 54
  • Knotted tree’s ‘massed leaves made a fabric against the rain’ 56  The lawn becomes ‘muddy swamps and prehistoric marshes’ 56

Gatsby’s House and grounds

  • History: built by a brewer in the ‘period’ craze 57: ‘Marie Antoinette music-rooms and Restoration salons’ 58   ‘Merton College’ Library
  • Maid ‘spat meditatively’ 57  ‘Ghostly laughter’ of owl-eyed man 58
  • ‘See how the whole front of it catches the light’ ‘Full of interestingpeople’ … ‘Celebratedpeople.’ 58
  • ‘It was strange … to find no stir’ … no sound but bird voices’ 58
  • through bedrooms’  ‘through dressing rooms’ ‘swathed in rose and lavender silk’ 58  ‘grounds and the swimming pool, and hydroplane, and the midsummer flowers 59

Also see:

Chapter 2 Notes

Chapter 3 Notes

Chapter 4 Notes

Chapter 6 Notes

Chapter 7 Sample essay

Chapter 8 Guided reading 


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