F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby

  • 14-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 9 chapter summaries and 6 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a high school English teacher with over 10 years of experience
Access Full Summary

The Great Gatsby Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 3 Summary

In this chapter, we get an extended description of the lavish parties thrown at Gatsby’s house. They feature huge banquets, music, and hundreds of people who come and go as they please.

Nick goes on to describe his own first appearance at one of Gatsby’s parties. He notes with amusement that he attended in response to a very formal invitation, delivered by a chauffeur. This is in contrast to the partygoers, most of whom do not even know Gatsby.

When he arrives at the party, Nick runs into Jordan Baker. Jordan explains that she like large parties because they provide anonymity. Nick is glad to have someone he knows there. At first, Jordan is speaking with two young women. One explains that at a previous party, she tore a dress on a chair – to make up for this accident, Gatsby has an expensive new dress sent to her home.

Nick overhears the rumors that are being distributed about Gatsby. They are contradictory explanations of his wealth and origin: some call him a former German spy, others an American war hero, others say “he killed a man once.”
Nick goes wandering to find Gatsby, and in the vast library encounters an “owl-eyed” man. This man, visibly intoxicated, is fascinated by the fact that the library’s books are real, rather than replicas.

Later, Nick is approached by a man who says he looks familiar and who asks if Nick served in the Army. Nick says yes, and finds himself being introduced to Gatsby himself.

Gatsby is drawn away by a phone call from Chicago, and disappears for a while. During a lengthy piece of music, Nick’s eyes alight on Gatsby standing alone and looking out over his party. Nick is struck by Gatsby’s charismatic smile. From Nick’s point of view Gatsby appears happy and innocent at this moment, and his sobriety stands in stark contrast to his guests’ hedonistic drunkenness.

Around the time that people are leaving, Gatsby sends a request that Jordan come to speak with him alone. When he returns, she appears somewhat shaken.

As Nick leaves, the owl-eyed man and another man are…

This is just a preview. The entire section has 923 words. Click below to download the full study guide for The Great Gatsby.