A newspaper man from the city has heard the great rumors about this mysterious Mr. Gatsby who throws lavish parties. He comes (in vain) to get information from Jay.
Nick decides to tell us the truth about Gatsby's past, since apparently, the man lied about everything. Even his name. So here's the real deal:
Gatsby was born "James Gatz." (It is kind of cute how he just played around with the "y" sound.)
And he didn't grow up wealthy; he grew up poor.
"Jay Gatsby" was born the day James Gatz, at 17, rowed out to meet Dan Cody's yacht, to tell him that a "wind might catch up and break him up in half an hour." Dan Cody (sound familiar?) became his mentor and best friend. He spent the next five years as Cody's steward, mate, skipper, secretary, and, sometimes, when Cody got too drunk, jailor--and probably vomiting-head-holder, too. There's a reason Gatsby drinks so little.
Nick recalls the portrait of the man in Gatsby's bedroom. We're a step ahead of you, Nick.
According to Cody's will, Gatsby was supposed to inherit his money – but Cody's mistress intervened and kept it for herself.
And that's the real deal. Nick says he didn't find this out until much later, but he wants to dish it to us now.
Back to the story at hand. Nick is chilling at Gatsby's place when this man Sloane and the girl he's with stop by – with Tom Buchanan.
Gatsby goes about entertaining these unannounced and rather presumptuous guests.
Now that Gatsby has, in his mind, secured Daisy, he's rather aggressive to Tom, taunting subtly, "I know your wife."
Tom, who hates to be out-manned by anyone, takes an instant dislike to Gatsby. Can't blame him.
Sloane's girl invites Gatsby to come to dinner, even though the guys clearly don't want him—and the girl might have just been Mean-Girling it up a little. Gatsby decides to join anyway.
As Gatsby goes to get dressed, the trio leaves without him. Ooh, burn.
The next Saturday, Tom and Daisy both come to Gatsby's party, apparently just asking for trouble.
Daisy and Gatsby sneak over to Nick's house to have some couple time on his front steps.
At dinner, Tom leaves to eat at another table. Daisy knows what it's all about – she tells Nick that the girl is "common but pretty" and even goes so far as to give Tom her "little gold pencil" in case he needs to write anything down (like a phone number, for instance, or a "let's meet here to have an affair" address).
Nick tells us that the tone of this party is different from the others; everyone is hostile, drunk, and kind of rude.
There is some general fascination with a movie star who is there with her director. Said director has been staring at her loveliness and finally goes to kiss her on the neck. This woman, sitting under a—wait for it—WHITE tree, is clearly the object of this man's fascination. Hmm.
Aside from the pretty actress, Daisy doesn't like the crudeness of the crowd, or of West Egg in general. But she pretends to be impressed with it when Tom starts knocking the party.
Tom wants to find out "the truth" about Gatsby – mostly how he got his money, which to a mind like Tom's is pretty much your defining feature.
Daisy is extremely certain that Gatsby's money came from drugstores, but we're still not sure.
Nick stays until the bitter end. He talks with Gatsby, who is concerned that he "can't make Daisy understand."
"Understand what?" you might be thinking. And rightly so. Nick tells us that Gatsby wants the impossible out of Daisy: "He wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should go to Tom and say: 'I never loved you.'"
Nick cautions Gatsby that he can't repeat the past.
Gatsby isn't buying it.
Nick imagines Gatsby as a younger man courting the eighteen-year-old Daisy. Gatsby wanted to "gulp" down everything that surrounded her – her life, the culture of the wealthy, the wonder. It's all very poetic and lovely. You should definitely check out the full passage in your book.
Nick says he is "reminded of" something that he has long forgotten – but it escapes his mind. Very curious, indeed.