The Great Gatsby Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis
Chapter 1 Summary
The novel begins with the narrator, Nick Carraway, relating details about his upbringing in an affluent Midwest family. He explains that they represent themselves as descendants of royalty, but that in fact their origin only goes back as far as a mid-nineteenth century hardware store proprietor. Supported by family wealth Nick graduated from Yale in 1915, and fought in World War I. The war has made him restless, so instead of returning to his home he moves to New York to pursue bond trading as a livelihood. Instead of living in New York City he decides to live in the nearby country town of West Egg, on Long Island.
Nick lives at the end of West Egg closest to East Egg. From his house he can see the neighboring large home that turns out (although he informs us that he did not know this at first) to belong to Gatsby. The house is a conspicuous and “colossal” ivy-covered home, with a marble swimming pool.
He explains that there is an East Egg also – the two “eggs” are the hilly opposite endpoints of the bay of Long Island Sound. Nick happens to have acquaintances in East Egg: his second cousin Daisy lives there, with her husband, Tom Buchanan (whom Nick knew at Yale). Tom was an excellent college football player, and comes from a very wealthy family. Their home is described as a “Georgian Colonial mansion overlooking the bay,” covered like Gatsby’s in ivy.
Tom, explains Nick, often evokes dislike because of his wealth, physique, and tendency to come across as haughty. On a visit to the Buchanans’ home, Nick spends time with them as well as their friend, Miss Baker, who looks familiar to Nick.
The conversation among the group before and during dinner feels rather frivolous to the reader. Tom mentions a book he is read titled “The Rise of the Coloured Empires,” a racist book about protecting the white race; Tom claims the book’s arguments are scientific fact. He explains that the Nordic races, of which he says he and Nick are members, created civilization. No one engages…