How Does Nick Meet Gatsby For The First Time?

Updated 30 September, 2024
Before Nick and Jay Gatsby formally meet, Nick observes Gatsby standing alone on his dock before he formally meets them. Gatsby is stretching his arms toward the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. This is the first time Nick sees Gatsby.
Detailed answer:

In the first chapters of the novel, Nick establishes a center of attention towards Gatsby as he names the book after him, saying that there was something gorgeous about him and that “he represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn.' Nick’s initial ambiguous description of Gatsby’s romantic readiness and extraordinary gift for hope added a taste of enthusiasm that encouraged the reader to dig deeper in the novel and learn more about this so-called character named Gatsby. Nick first sees him - after returning from dinner at Daisy’s house - standing by the waterside, stretching his arms toward the darkness, trembling, “He stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling.” This gesture seemed to carry deep emotional significance to Gatsby as he was trembling from emotions that only he knew at the moment.
Nick receives an invitation from Gatsby to one of his extravagant parties unlike everyone else who showed up with no previous notice. He meets Gatsby while sitting on a table with Jordan and describes him as a man about his age with an unusual warm smile, “It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life.” He goes on to describe him as friendly and exceptionally understanding who doesn’t drink and keeps himself separated from the party. Despite Nick’s initial descriptions, Gatsby’s character remains to be shady and vague until one morning late in July, he shows with his stunning car at Nick’s door inviting him to have lunch together. While on the road to New York, Gatsby tells Nick about his past; he comes from a Midwestern wealthy family from San Francisco in which he inherited 'a good deal of money' after his family died. He adds that he attended Oxford University as a family tradition and with his fortune, he traveled throughout “capitals of Europe — Paris, Venice, Rome — collecting jewels, chiefly rubies, hunting big game, painting a little, things for myself only,” trying to escape a sad, sad memory. Gatsby’s speech about himself arose doubt and curiosity in Nick as his story was quite far-fetched. He questions Gatsby’s credibility seeing that he wasn’t comfortable talking about his past and seemed to hide an important aspect of it. Afterwards, he introduces Nick to Mr. Wolfshiem, which rises suspensions about his fortune and his shady business dealings handled under tables.

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