In Chapter 4 of The Great Gatsby (see our Chapter 4 Summary ), the reader discovers that Nick and Gatsby appear to be friends.
Nick Carraway, narrator of the novel, says that he has attended two of Gatsby’s extravagant parties and that Gatsby has allowed him to use his private beach.
We don’t know if Nick sees Gatsby at this time or Nick is simply taking advantage of the kindness Gatsby shows him. However, as far as friends go, it appears that Nick is Gatsby’s closest friend, since others are only business acquaintances.
Gatsby asks Nick to go to lunch with him in New York City. After the eye-opening “lunch” he had with Tom Buchanan in the previous chapter, the reader might think that Nick would decline, but Nick is still curious about his neighbor.
What happens in this chapter has led to some fabulous quotes, which are still used today.
Nick Carraway’s Best Quotes from Chapter 4
Gatsby drives by Nick’s house one morning in July and asks him to accompany him to lunch in the city. Nick agrees to go with his neighbor.
Nick’s Quote about Gatsby’s Athletic and Graceful Movements
Nick notes Gatsby’s easygoing style:
“[Gatsby] was balancing himself on the dashboard of his car with that resourcefulness of movement that is so peculiarly American—that comes, I suppose, with the absence of lifting work or rigid sitting in youth and, even more, with the formless grace of our nervous, sporadic games.”
As Gatsby drives erratically, he begins to tell Nick about his life. Jay Gatsby tells him that he was a war hero, attended Oxford, and traveled the world. He also says that he came from an extremely wealthy family but that everyone else had passed on.
Nick is fairly certain that Gatsby isn’t telling him the truth, but he has photos and a medal!
The Great Gatsby Chapter 4 Color Quotes & Racial Comments
In this chapter, there’s one paragraph that seems unimportant at best and confusing at worst. It doesn’t add to the story, but Nick presents it as an observation of what’s happening around:
A dead man passed us in a hearse heaped with blooms, followed by two carriages with drawn blinds, and by more cheerful carriages for friends. The friends looked out at us with the tragic eyes and short upper lips of southeastern Europe, and I was glad that the sight of Gatsby’s splendid car was included in their sombre holiday. As we crossed Blackwell’s Island a limousine passed us, driven by a white chauffeur, in which sat three modish negroes, two bucks and a girl. I laughed aloud as the yolks of their eyeballs rolled toward us in haughty rivalry.
While the passage might sound like an innocent observation, take note of some racial innuendos, like “short upper lips of southeastern Europe”, “white chauffeur”, “modish negroes”, and “yolks of their eyeballs”.
This image jumps right out of the book that Tom Buchanan was reading earlier ( see Chapter 1 Quotes) – The Rise of the Colored Empires.
All the rumors and Gatsby’s insistence about his past has Nick’s head swimming. He begins to think that anything is possible.
“Anything can happen now that we’ve slid over this bridge,” I thought; “anything at all…”
Even Gatsby could happen, without any particular wonder.
Nick meets Meyer Wolfsheim in this chapter and is a bit put off by the human tooth he uses as a tie pin.
How Nick Feels When He’s with Jordan
After dinner, Nick spends time with Jordan and finds himself falling in love- maybe.
It was dark now, and as we dipped under a little bridge I put my arm around Jordan’s golden shoulder and drew her toward me and asked her to dinner. Suddenly I wasn’t thinking of Daisy and Gatsby any more, but of this clean, hard, limited person, who dealt in universal scepticism, and who leaned back jauntily just within the circle of my arm.
A phrase began to beat in my ears with a sort of heady excitement: “There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.”
Nick wants to believe Gatsby, but he is distracted by Jordan and is really confused by the things Meyer Wolfsheim has told him.
Meyer Wolfsheim’s Best Quotes from Chapter 4
Gatsby takes Nick to a speakeasy located behind a barber shop, which Nick finds quite surprising. Here, Gatsby introduces Nick to a shady character that confuses Nick even more (see more on the main Great Gatsby Characters ).
If Nick had started to believe Gatsby’s stories about his past, he was truly confused now.
Meyer Wolfsheim shows Nick his tie pin, made from a human tooth. Then he tells Nick that –
“Yeah, Gatsby’s very careful about women. He would never so much as look at a friend’s wife.”
Nick and Gatsby begin to talk when Meyer Wolfsheim excuses himself saying:
“You’re very polite, but I belong to another generation… You sit here and discuss your sports and your young ladies… As for me, I am fifty years old, and I won’t impose myself on you any longer.”
It appears that Wolfsheim isn’t interested in talking about sports or young ladies, only business.
Jay Gatsby’s Best Quotes from Chapter 4
Gatsby spends much of this chapter revealing his past to Nick. Gatsby shows Nick a photograph, which Nick describes as:
It was a photograph of half a dozen young men in blazers loafing in an archway through which were visible a host of spires. There was Gatsby, looking a little, not much, younger—with a cricket bat in his hand. Then it was all true…
Quotes about Favors in The Great Gatsby Chapter 4
This is the part of the novel where Gatsby’s gives a hint at the favor he’s going to ask Nick.
“I’m going to make a big request of you to-day… so I thought you ought to know something about me. I didn’t want you to think I was just some nobody. You see, I usually find myself among strangers because I drift here and there trying to forget the sad thing that happened to me. You’ll hear about it this afternoon.”
Gatsby tells Nick that Jordan will speak to him about the request, and all the mystery about the matter annoys Nick. Near the end of the chapter, Jordan tells Nick about Gatsby’s request for him to invite Daisy to his house.
Gatsby’s Quotes Describing Meyer Wolfsheim
Nick isn’t really sure what to think of Meyer Wolfsheim, so he asks Gatsby about him. Gatsby tries to explain without sounding as if he’s friends with criminals, but he’s clearly proud to be Wolfsheim’s friend:
“Meyer Wolfsheim? No, he’s a gambler. He’s the man who fixed the World Series back in 1919.”
When Nick asks why he isn’t in jail, Gatsby replies:
“They can’t get him, old sport. He’s a smart man.”
When Tom Buchanan enters the speakeasy, Nick is both happy to see a face he knows and surprised to see Tom in a “hidden” club.
Nick introduces Tom and Gatsby. Gatsby disappears soon afterward, confusing Nick even more.
Jordan Baker’s Best Quotes from Chapter 4
Nick finds Jordan Baker on the street and invites her to dinner. When they meet, Jordan has a lot to tell Nick about Gatsby and Daisy’s history.
Jordan’s Quote Describing How Gatsby and Daisy Fell in Love
Jordan explains that at Daisy’s debutant ball, there were quite a number of young officers who had been invited, one of whom was a young Jay Gatsby ( see quotes about Jay ). She tells Nick:
“The officer looked at Daisy while she was speaking, in a way that every young girl wants to be looked at sometime.”
Daisy and Gatsby immediately fell in love. Gatsby asked Daisy to wait for him until after the war. She agreed, but five long years went by with no word from Gatsby.
Jordan’s Quotes about Wealth in The Great Gatsby Chapter 4
Daisy met Tom Buchanan who proposed to her. Daisy, worried that Gatsby had died in the war, agreed to marry Tom. Tom gave Daisy a $350,000 pearl necklace as an engagement present.
“The day before the wedding he gave her a string of pearls valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars.”
Gatsby had actually been trying to make money ( read Great Gatsby Money Quotes here ) so that he would be worthy of Daisy and come from the same class. He heard about her upcoming wedding somehow and wrote to her, saying that he would return very soon.
Daisy read the letter the night before her wedding and got very drunk. Jordan tells Nick how Daisy cried her heart out that night and seemed to change her mind about the wedding:
“Here, deares’.” She groped around in a waste-basket she had with her on the bed and pulled out the string of pearls. “Take ’em down-stairs and give ’em back to whoever they belong to. Tell ’em all Daisy’s change’ her mine. Say: ‘Daisy’s change’ her mine!'”
Daisy’s mother sobered up her daughter and restringed the pearls. The following day, Daisy did what a dutiful daughter of the times should do. She married Tom Buchanan even though she loved someone else.
Nick finds it a strange coincidence that Gatsby’s house in West Egg is so close to Daisy’s. When he tells Jordan about his thoughts, Jordan tells Nick:
‘But it wasn’t a coincidence at all.’
‘Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay.’
This time, it is now Jordan telling Nick about the favor that Gatsby wants from him:
“He wants to know, if you’ll invite Daisy to your house some afternoon and then let him come over.”
Nick isn’t sure at first about granting this request. He knows Daisy is married to Tom, his friend from college, and that he might be facilitating an affair. However, he most likely remembered about Tom and Myrtle and thought, why not?
Nick learns quite a bit about Gatsby in this chapter, and while he may have his doubts about Meyer Wolfsheim, all of this appears to take a back seat when Jordan tells Nick about how Daisy and Gatsby had met five years earlier.
If the reader had any doubts about Gatsby’s past, this chapter helps to clear up some of the mysteries surrounding him and his attraction to Daisy.
It also explains why Gatsby was so uncomfortable being around Tom and why he left Nick after inviting him to lunch.
You can read more important quotes from The Great Gatsby here.
Written by Kerry Wisby – GatsbyFlapperGirl.com
Owner & Founder of GatsbyFlapperGirl.com
Kerry Wisby, a former teacher with a BA in English, is the founder of GatsbyFlapperGirl.com. With a passion for all things 1920s, including The Great Gatsby novel, her website is the ultimate source for Roaring Twenties fashion, history, and party ideas. Read more about Kerry here.