In the summer of 1922, Nick, a Yale graduate, moves from his hometown, Minnesota and rents a house in West Egg, a long island suburb located directly across a bay from East Egg. West Egg is the least fashionable of the two as East Egg has a higher social position. Both districts are similar in a way, because they are both fairly wealthy, but the way they get their money is different as West Egg earns their money (new money) and East Egg inherits their money from their older family members (old money). His house is located right next to a gigantic mansion owned by a man named Jay Gatsby.
One day, Nick drives over to East Egg to have lunch at the Buchanans; Daisy Buchanan is his cousin and Nick formally knew her husband, Tom from Yale. Nick describes Tom as an arrogant man with a cruel body. At dinner, Nick meets Jordan Baker, a young professional golfer who constantly seems bored of her surroundings. Later on, Tom learns that he has an impeding phone call and leaves the room as Daisy quickly follows him. As a result, Jordan informs Nick that Tom is on the phone with his mistress. As Nick returns home, he witnesses Jay Gatsby standing on his lawn and gazing out across Long Island Sound.
He observes him as he stretches his arms out towards the far side of the water and as he looks carefully, examines a green light at the end of the dock. Gatsby’s gesture is representative of his character and it is clear at this point that the green light symbolizes his hopes and dreams for the future. In chapter two, Nick describes a wasteland called the Valley of Ashes located between West Egg and New York City which symbolizes the social and moral decay that results from the uninhibited pursuit of wealth.
Above the Valley of Ashes, there are two spectacled eyes from the billboard for an eye doctor’s outdated practice. These eyes of T. J Eckleberg represent God staring down upon and judging the American economy as a moral wasteland, although this connection only exists in George Wilson’s mind. One day, Tom and Nick take a train from Long Island into the city and make a stop in the Valley of Ashes. Tom introduces Nick to George Wilson at an auto garage and then learns that Wilson’s wife is none other than Myrtle Wilson, Tom’s mistress.
Myrtle strikes Nick as peculiarly sensuous and vibrant and emphasizes that her face contains no facet or gleam of beauty. The colours that she chooses to wear represent her loud personality. As George Wilson leaves the room, Tom instructs Myrtle to meet him and Nick at the train station and as arrive there, they go to the apartment in New York City, which belongs to Myrtle’s sister, Catherine in which he conducts his affair. Everyone gets drunk at the party, including Nick and the topic of conversation shifts to Nick’s neighbor, Gatsby.
Catherine admits that she is afraid of Gatsby because he is a relative of the German emperor, Kaisser William. She also mentions that Myrtle and Tom are made for one another, but since Daisy is Catholic and does not believe in divorce, they cannot get married. When Myrtle gets drunk, she becomes very loud and as a result, starts chanting Daisy’s name even though Tom warns her that she does not have the right to do so. Because of Myrtle’s actions, Tom punches her, therefore breaking her nose. Chapter three starts off with a description of Gatsby’s lavish parties, which he throws every Saturday night.
Nick receives an invitation and when he arrives at the party, he realizes that a lot of the people there have not been invited. Nick hears people spreading rumors about Gatsby regarding his past; he was a German spy and an Oxford graduate, and he once killed a man. Nick meets with Jordan Baker and they sit outside, observing the party. Nick converses with a man and then realizes that he is none other than Jay Gatsby himself and also takes into account that Gatsby finds pleasure in observing the manifestation of the party rather than being a part of it.
At two in the morning, a utler approaches Jordan and requests her to meet with Gatsby and later, she tells Nick that the story she had just heard was an amazing one. Nick provides the readers with an explanation of his life as he works every day, has a temporary fling with a lady from New Jersey, and begins to date Jordan Baker. Even though he finds himself attracted to Jordan Baker, he dislikes her because of her dishonesty and the fact that she cheats her way through golf tournaments. He finishes off the chapter by stating that he is one of the most honest people that he has ever known.