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Summary and Detailed Notes for Chapter 3 of The Great Gatsby

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Brief Summary of Chapter 3

Valley of Ashes
The valley of ashes is situated between West Egg and New York. It is characterized by ashes that grow like wheat into ridges and hills, and the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg watch over it.

A small and unprosperous garage exists in a desolate area. Tom Buchanan and the narrator meet with the owner and his wife, with Tom making plans to meet with the woman later.

Train Station
Tom Buchanan, Doctor Eckleburg, and a woman named Mrs. Wilson travel to New York and stop at a train station. Mrs. Wilson buys a dog from a street vendor for $10.

Myrtle’s Apartment
The narrator and Tom take a cab to Myrtle’s small, crowded apartment filled with large furniture, magazines, and a hen photograph. They drink whiskey and make phone calls before guests arrive.

Gathering in a Room
This passage describes the physical appearance and behavior of Catherine, Mr. McKee, and Mrs. Wilson at a gathering in a room. The characters’ personalities and occupations are briefly touched upon.

Group Conversation
The group of people gathered in the room discuss photography and art, and conversation turns to Gatsby and his rumored relation to Kaiser Wilhelm. Myrtle seems unhappy in her marriage. Catherine shares that Tom and Myrtle are unhappy in their marriages and should get divorced; Myrtle reveals that it’s Tom’s wife who won’t grant him a divorce, and Catherine shares that they plan to move west together. The group also discusses their past relationships and mistakes.

Continued Conversation
Tom orders food, and the narrator feels pulled into their arguments. Myrtle plans to buy various items. Time passes quickly. Amidst a chaotic party, Tom Buchanan breaks Mrs. Wilson’s nose. Mr. McKee leaves and offers to have lunch with the narrator, who later falls asleep in a train station.

Detailed Notes on Chapter 3

Description of Gatsby’s Extravagant Parties

•Guests flock to Gatsby’s house throughout the summer nights, enjoying music, champagne, and stars amidst his blue gardens.

•Gatsby’s guests often swim from his tower or sunbathe on his beach while motor-boats race over the Sound.

•His Rolls-Royce transports groups to and from the city constantly, and his station wagon scurries to meet trains.

•Entire crews come to cater and light his parties, with buffets of baked hams, salads, and pastries.

•The bar features forgotten cordials, while a large orchestra sets up in the main hall.

•The festivities continue to brighten into the night as more guests arrive, and the air is filled with laughter and chatter.

An Account of a Party at Gatsby’s House

•The gathering is characterized by constantly changing groups, confident women who draw attention to themselves briefly, and a generally festive atmosphere.

•People weren’t formally invited to Gatsby’s parties; they either showed up on their own or were introduced by someone who already knew Gatsby.

•The narrator was one of the few guests who had actually been invited; he was surprised to receive a formal note from Gatsby’s chauffeur.

•The party was attended by a mix of unfamiliar people, including young Englishmen and wealthy Americans.

•The young Englishmen seemed hungry for easy money and were likely there to sell something.

Awkward social encounters at a party

•The narrator attempts to find his host but is met with denial and confusion.

•He feels the need to attach himself to someone before making small talk with others.

•Jordan Baker comes out of the house and is spoken to by the narrator.

•Two girls in yellow converse with Jordan and the narrator; they discuss a past meeting and a golf tournament.

•The group is served cocktails and sits at a table with three men, each introduced as Mr. Mumble.

•Lucille recounts receiving a new evening gown as a gift from a man at the party.

•The topic of Gatsby arises and the group discusses rumors of him having possibly killed a man, causing a thrill to pass over them.

Speculation about Gatsby and a visit to his mansion

•Lucille expresses skepticism about Gatsby, claiming he was a German spy during the war.

•Another man confirms the spy theory, claiming to have grown up with Gatsby in Germany.

•A girl disputes the spy theory, insisting that Gatsby was in the American army during the war, but speculates that he might have killed someone.

•Jordan invites the narrator to join her party, which consists of three married couples and an undergraduate hoping to win Jordan over.

•The party is too polite for Jordan’s taste; they leave in search of Gatsby.

•They enter Gatsby’s Gothic library and meet a drunk, middle-aged man who shows them his real books, including “Stoddard Lectures.”

A party at Gatsby’s mansion

•The narrator is shown a book that looks just like a genuine printed matter and is amazed by its thoroughness and realism.

•The owner of the bookshelf is paranoid about anyone touching his books, as he thinks the whole library could collapse.

•Jordan and the narrator meet a man at the party who was brought by a woman named Roosevelt and is attempting to sober up by sitting in the library.

•There is dancing in the garden, with couples holding each other and single girls dancing.

•A tenor and a contralto perform, with champagne served in large glasses.

•The man at the table with Jordan and the narrator recognizes the narrator from their time in the war.

•The man mentions he just bought a hydroplane and plans to try it out the following morning.

Mysterious introduction of Jay Gatsby

•The narrator meets a mystery man who invites him to a party on the shore.

•The narrator almost asks his name, but is interrupted by Jordan’s arrival.

•Gatsby reveals himself to be the host of the party, surprising the narrator.

•Gatsby impresses the narrator with his smile, which seems to convey complete understanding and confidence.

•Gatsby leaves abruptly when called to answer a phone call.

•Jordan reveals that Gatsby claims to be an Oxford man, but she doubts his story.

•Jordan’s skepticism about Gatsby’s background raises the narrator’s curiosity.

The Great Gatsby party scene

•The narrator is surprised by the extravagant lifestyle of Gatsby and wonders where he came from.

•Jordan changes the subject to talk about Gatsby’s parties and her appreciation for large parties.

•The orchestra leader announces the latest work requested by Gatsby, which was well received at Carnegie Hall.

•The narrator observes Gatsby, noticing his mannerisms and appearance, but sees nothing sinister about him.

•Girls swoon over men, but no one does so over Gatsby, and his butler invites Jordan to speak with him alone.

•The narrator is left alone and hears sounds from a room upstairs, and he decides to investigate.

A Soiree of Turmoil and Secrets

•The room was filled with partygoers, and a girl in yellow was playing the piano. Beside her stood a tipsy, weeping woman who sang in a quavering soprano, mingling sobs with the notes.

•As the night progressed, fights between men and their wives erupted throughout the party, including a celebrity quartet from East Egg, who split due to dissension.

•Two sober men and their indignant wives were also in conflict in the hall; the dispute ended in a short struggle, and both wives were lifted, kicking, into the night.

•As Jordan Baker and Gatsby exited the library together, she whispered a tantalizing secret to him about their hour-long meeting.

A Car Accident Outside Gatsby’s Party

•A woman leaves Gatsby’s party, telling someone to come and see her under the name of Mrs. Sigourney Howard in the phone book and mentioning her aunt.

•The narrator feels ashamed for staying so late and not being able to find Gatsby earlier.

•Gatsby waves off the narrator’s apology and invites him on a hydroplane ride the next morning.

•The butler interrupts, telling Gatsby that someone from Philadelphia is on the phone.

•Gatsby heads towards the phone, saying goodnight to the narrator.

•The narrator sees a car accident outside Gatsby’s party, with a car missing a wheel in a ditch and a man in a long duster observing the situation.

•Owl Eyes, the man from Gatsby’s library, claims to know nothing about how the accident happened and denies trying to drive.

The Great Gatsby – A Story of Impulsive Behavior

•A criminal crashes a car and blames another man who crawled out of the wreck.

•The ghostly figure paws tentatively at the ground with a large uncertain dancing shoe.

•The amputated wheel comes off the car and the figure nonchalantly inquires about finding a gas station.

•The figure suggests putting the car in reverse to try to drive again despite the missing wheel.

•The protagonist observes the scene and turns away towards home, feeling a sudden emptiness.

•The protagonist reflects on how the events described were only minor compared to personal affairs and the busy life of a clerk in New York.

The narrator’s nightlife routine in New York

•The narrator’s routine during his friend’s vacation involved having dinner at the gloomy Yale Club, studying investments and securities at the library for an hour, and taking mellow walks around Madison Avenue and Pennsylvania Station.

•He enjoys the lively atmosphere of New York City at night and likes to imagine himself as a romantic hero by picking out women from the crowd and following them to their hidden apartments.

•At times, he feels a haunting loneliness that he also observes in young clerks wasting their nights in front of windows.

•However, his mood sinks further when he sees taxis filled with people hurrying toward theaters and gayety in the Forties.

•The narrator falls for Jordan Baker, a golf champion, and becomes increasingly curious about her underlying self.

•During a house-party in Warwick, she reveals her true character by leaving a borrowed car in the rain with the top down and lying about it.

Jordan Baker’s Dishonesty in “The Great Gatsby”

•Jordan Baker drew attention when she was accused of moving the ball from a bad lie during her first big golf tournament. The scandalous rumor quickly died when the caddy retracted his statement and the only witness admitted to possibly being mistaken.

•The incident stuck with the narrator, and he noticed that Jordan avoided shrewd men, preferring to adhere to a strict code. He believes her to be incurably dishonest, resorting to some form of dishonesty since her youth to keep her cool demeanor intact.

•The narrator did not deeply blame her for her dishonesty but was casually sorry for her instead.

•During a conversation about driving, Jordan revealed her careless attitude, believing that others would always get out of her way. The narrator was critical of her reckless nature and felt a vague attraction towards her.

•The narrator had to tactfully break off a vague understanding between him and a girl he used to write to before pursuing anything with Jordan. He considers himself one of the few truly honest people he knows.

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