Study Guide

Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby

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Jordan Baker

(Click the character infographic to download.)

Nick might end up "halfway in love" with Jordan, but he consistently describes her as cynical, having seen too much and heard too much to be fooled by anybody.

If that's love, we'll pass.

She's a Pro

Jordan is a golfer—a professional golfer. Already, we know she's different from Daisy. Where Daisy is always fluttering and babbling and giggling and basically acting like a dumb girl (her words, not ours), Jordan is hard, direct, and cynical. And she's bored to tears. We don't know much about her family, except that she has "one aunt about a thousand years old" (1.137), but we know that she and Daisy spent their "white girlhoods" together (1.140). Given the looks that Daisy and Tom give each other, we suspect that she might not be so "white" (as in, pure) anymore.

But there's a problem with her game. She's a cheat. And Nick describes her as not just a golf cheat, but a cheat at life:

Jordan Baker instinctively avoided clever, shrewd men, and now I saw that this was because she felt safer on a plane where any divergence from a code would be thought impossible. She was incurably dishonest. She wasn't able to endure being at a disadvantage and, given this unwillingness, I suppose she had begun dealing in subterfuges when she was very young in order to keep that cool, insolent smile turned to the world and yet satisfy the demands of her hard, jaunty body. (3.158)

Let's break this down: she's dishonest, hard, cool, insolent, and deceptive. Oh, and her body has " demands," which, to us, sounds a lot like sex. Golf, sex, and dishonesty: Jordan may come from the same world as Daisy, but she's a modern woman, with "slender golden arm[s]" (3.19).

Golden arms? Code for tan. Tan? Code for not white. And white means pure. (Check out our "Symbols" section for more on color in The Great Gatsby.)

Jordan may not make a rich, brilliant match like Daisy, but we get the feeling she's going to have a much more successful life. Maybe it won't be happy—we're pretty sure no one in this novel gets to be happy—but she's going to make it in the modern world. In fact, she might be the only one who doesn't end up retreating back West.


So what does Nick see in her, anyway? One of the first things she says to him is that she "hates careless people" (3). Perfect! Nick hates careless people, too. It's a match made in heaven. And Jordan has a little bit of the same glamour that Daisy does; when he's thinking about breaking up with his Chicago girlfriend, he thinks about how that girlfriend gets a little sweaty when she plays tennis. And Jordan, apparently, never sweats at all.

So, like Gatsby, Nick is drawn in by the rich glamour of this world. Unlike Gatsby, though, he's eventually able to see through it, and he recognizes that Jordan, like Daisy and Tom, is nothing but a careless person herself. Even if she's a really sexy one.

Become a Gatsby wiz! Get the full write up about The Great Gatsby here.



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