The Great Gatsby Chapter 4 Summary & Annotations: In Simple Terms

Last Updated: October 25th, 2023 by Kerry Wisby (Teacher-BA English Literature, 1920s & Great Gatsby Expert)

If you’re short on time, a quick summary of each chapter of The Great Gatsby can be quite helpful.

This is an important chapter as the reader is going to find out more about who Gatsby is, or at least, who he tells Nick that he is, and what he wants from Nick.

The Great Gatsby Chapter 4 Summary and Annotations

Keep reading and get all your questions answered in this summary of Chapter 4 of The Great Gatsby.

What Happens in Chapter 4 of The Great Gatsby?

Chapter 4 starts off with Nick back at Gatsby’s house to go ride his hydroplane. Nick overhears some of Gatsby’s party guests talking about their host, despite not knowing him.

One woman says that Gatsby killed a man who found out he was a German spy and was “second cousin to the Devil.” She also claimed that Gatsby was a bootlegger.

Nick then goes on to list all the rich and famous people he saw at the party the night before. Most of these names aren’t known to people today. 

Gatsby drives over to Nick’s house one morning and tells him that they are going to have lunch in New York.

He asks Nick what he thinks of him, then interrupts him by telling him a few things about his life.

Gatsby claims that he’s from a wealthy mid-western town and that he is the last survivor of his family line. When Nick asks which mid-western town, Gatsby hesitates, then says “San Francisco.”

Gatsby and Nick Carraway in New York

He claims that he was educated at Oxford, which was a family tradition. Gatsby tells Nick that he tried very hard to die a war hero but that he seems to lead an enchanted life.

Gatsby gets pulled over for speeding but shows the policeman a card from the county commissioner. The policeman apologizes and says he will remember his car the next time he sees him, and Gatsby’s car speeds away and continues on the drive to New York.

He also claims that he was given a medal by Montenegro, and he pulls out the medal as proof. He shows Nick a photo of himself at Oxford.

Nick thinks that Gatsby sounds like a liar, but he’s got proof to back up his claims, so Nick isn’t sure what to think at this point.

At lunch, Gatsby introduces Meyer Wolfsheim, who shows Nick his cufflinks made from human molars. He’s a well-known gambler who says that he fixed the 1919 World Series.

While at the speakeasy, Nick sees Tom Buchanan and introduces him to Gatsby. It’s obvious that Gatsby is very uncomfortable with Tom’s mere presence and he disappears.

Nick then meets Jordan later in the afternoon. She finally explains what Gatsby had told her in Chapter 3 (You can read more about this from The Great Gatsby Chapter 3 summary).

Gatsby and Daisy dancing in one of Gatsby's parties

Gatsby has been in love with Daisy Buchanan since 1917 when Gatsby was a young officer and Daisy a debutante. They met at her coming-of-age party and immediately fell in love.

Daisy promised to wait for Gatsby to return from the war, but after 5 years, she got tired of waiting. She writes a letter to Gatsby telling him of her upcoming marriage to Tom Buchanan.

This letter causes Gatsby to return to the US, but it’s too late. He writes Daisy a letter saying that he’s earning his fortune and that he will return soon. Jordan was with Daisy on the eve of her wedding. She tells Nick that Daisy got drunk and told her that she changed her mind about marrying Tom.

Daisy’s family, however, had other plans. Her mother tells her to sober up and get ready to marry Tom. Daisy does as she is told.

Gatsby is still in love with Daisy, and he hopes to rekindle their romance even though she is married and now has a young daughter. Jordan explains that Gatsby bought that particular mansion because it was directly across the bay from Daisy’s house (read more on Jordan in The Great Gatsby ), and her dock (which is marked by a green light) is visible from Gatsby’s boat dock.

man on a dock with a green backdrop

Jordan ends by telling Nick that the big favor Gatsby wants of Nick is that he invites Daisy to tea at Nick’s house. This way, Gatsby, being Nick’s neighbor, can “accidentally” drop by, and they can meet again.

This chapter gives us Gatsby’s story. It sounds like an exaggerated tale, at the very least, but he seems to have proof that the reader (and Nick) cannot deny.

Nick knows that Daisy is married, but after having a party with Tom and his mistress, perhaps Nick feels that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.

In the first chapter (you can read more about The Great Gatsby Chapter 1 summary here), Nick tells the reader that he always reserves judgment until later. This does seem to be the case here since Nick never does say anything about Tom’s mistress, and he appears to be willing to invite Daisy to his house so she can meet her old lover.

What Do We Learn about Gatsby and Daisy in Chapter 4?

The Great Gatsby - man and woman standing close to each other

The reader discovers that Gatsby and Daisy actually know one another!

This would explain why Daisy perked up in Chapter One when Jordan and Nick were talking about Nick’s neighbor, Gatsby.

It’s been five years since they saw one another, and a lot of things have changed.

Gatsby is no longer a poor boy in the army fighting a war. He is now a young man who is wealthy and dignified.

However, this does lead the reader to wonder. If Gatsby comes from a rich family, as he told Nick, then why did he stay away from Daisy to earn his fortune?

Daisy has also changed. She’s gone from being the single Daisy Fay to a married woman with a young daughter.

It’s Gatsby’s dream to meet Daisy again, but is everything on the up and up? Where did Gatsby’s wealth really come from, anyway?

Jordan Baker doesn’t seem to be concerned that she is arranging for her friend to possibly cheat on her husband. She also knows that Tom is cheating on Daisy, so it’s a good bet that she feels Daisy would be justified in cheating on Tom.

Chapter Four tells us that Gatsby and Daisy have a history together, one that is more complicated than the reader could have imagined.

Who Kisses Whom at the End of Chapter 4 of The Great Gatsby?

Jordan Baker and Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby

Nick is with Jordan in the car when he realizes that he really isn’t interested in talking about Gatsby or Daisy any longer, but that he’s got a beautiful young woman right next to him.

Nick pulls Jordan close to him and kisses her in the car, inviting her out to dinner.

What Is the Significance of Chapter 4 in The Great Gatsby?

In Chapter 4, we learn some of the important parts of Gatsby’s life.

While no one (meaning the reader and Nick) knows how much of what Gatsby tells Nick is true, at least we hear Gatsby’s side of the story and not just drunken rumors.

We also learn that Gatsby and Daisy have a history together, even if it is a short one. They were together only one night, but that was all Gatsby needed to fall head over heels in love.

Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan The Great American Novel

In this chapter, we learn about Gatsby’s dream. He has spent the last five years of his life trying to earn Daisy’s love and the last couple of years thinking about how he could win her back and keep her.

Gatsby knew he would need plenty of money. Whether he earned it (and how he earned it) or inherited the money still isn’t known, but Jay Gatsby knows that to keep Daisy in the comfort that she is accustomed to, as well as compete with Tom, he needs a great deal of cash.

He will also need a grand mansion. Unfortunately, no one in East Egg would sell to someone who didn’t come from old money, Gatsby got as close as he could, buying a mansion in West Egg, directly across Daisy’s house.

In fact, Gatsby seemed to hope that by throwing lavish and outrageous parties every weekend (read more on why does Gatsby through parties all the time ), Daisy would see them or hear them, and she might attend.

This explains why Gatsby only seemed interested in checking out who was at his parties and not so much in enjoying the festivities himself. Gatsby was simply looking for Daisy, not realizing that Daisy would never go to a party with what old money considered to be “vulgar” new-money folks.

This chapter tells us a great deal about Gatsby’s dream and love for Daisy. How carefully planned everything in his life has been right up until this point.

Everything that Gatsby has done has been to get Daisy back into his life.

What Do We Learn about Nick in Chapter 4?

Nick Carraway, narrator and character in The Great Gatsby

Nick doesn’t seem too sure about his neighbor.

He thinks that his stories sound like the bragging of a bad liar, but when Gatsby shows Nick proof that he isn’t lying at least about a few things, Nick finds that he would like to believe him.

We do discover that Nick is a bit naive. He doesn’t understand when Meyer Wolfsheim tells him that the World Series was fixed. He also doesn’t know why Gatsby is so nervous and uncomfortable around Tom.

Nick finds that he doesn’t really belong to either the old money world nor does he fit in with the new money world, but he seems happy to be the anonymous bystander who is just watching the parade from the sidelines.

This makes the reader identify with Nick and makes his tale all the more believable.

Final Thoughts on Chapter 4

Nick is getting a great deal of information from multiple sources, and he’s not really sure what to do with it all.

He wants to believe Gatsby because he likes him, but Nick isn’t so sure about Meyer Wolfsheim ( read Quotes by Meyer Wolfsheim ) and what his relationship means to Gatsby. If Wolfsheim is involved in betting and crime, perhaps Gatsby is as well?

When it comes to Daisy, Nick is aware that if he arranges a meeting he might be setting up his cousin so she can easily cheat on his friend Tom, but Nick seems to want to let adults do what they want.

Jordan and Nick seem to want to fall in love, but something is stopping them both from moving forward with their relationship.

This chapter is a turning point in the novel. Nick can decline to invite Daisy to tea or he could warn Tom about Gatsby. He could also invite Daisy so she and Gatsby can meet and let the cards fall where they may.

The Great Gatsby Chapter 4 Summary & Annotations: In Simple Terms
The Great Gatsby Chapter 4 Summary & Annotations: In Simple Terms
If you don't have the time to read Chapter 4 of the Great Gatsby, this summary captures all the important events occurring in this chapter.
Gatsby Flapper Girl