The Great Gatsby Chapter 5 Summary & Annotations: In Simple Terms

Last Updated: October 24th, 2023 by Kerry Wisby (Teacher-BA English Literature, 1920s & Great Gatsby Expert)

If you are reading The Great Gatsby and have made it this far, you’ve come right to the middle of the story.

chapter 5 the great gatsby

Chapter 5 has fascinating revelations about almost every character, and Nick is about to discover what it is about Daisy that has so enchanted Gatsby.

You can read a short history of the events that got us to this point in The Great Gatsby Chapter 4 Summary.

For those who are really short on time


Key Points Chapter 5 The Great Gatsby: When Gatsby Arrives and Daisy Arrives

  • Nick arranges the meeting with Daisy and Gatsby
  • Daisy and Gatsby finally meet at Nick’s house
  • Daisy goes next door to Gatsby’s house
  • Impressed with what she sees, Daisy cries with happiness
  • Gatsby and Daisy, after 5 years apart, appear to still be madly in love

Chapter 5 is in the middle of the novel ( see Great Gatsby Chapter 5 Quotes ), and everything changes now. Gatsby goes from dreaming of having Daisy back in his life to actually having her.

Find out more details in this summary of Chapter 5.

A Short Summary of Chapter 5

After Nick’s date with Jordan, he returns home to find Gatsby’s mansion lit up like a Christmas tree. Gatsby himself comes out of the bushes and is anxious about what Nick will say about his request.

Gatsby offers Nick some type of side job, but before Jay Gatsby can tell him about it, Nick says that it’s not necessary and he’s really not interested.

jay gatsby nick carraway and daisy buchanan - Chapter 5 when Gatsby Invites Daisy to his house

Nick then tells Gatsby that he would be happy to invite Daisy to tea. He does so the next morning, telling Daisy to be sure to come alone.

The very nervous Jay Gatsby wants everything to be perfect, so he sends gardeners to cut Nick’s grass and fill every possible space with flowers, including having flowers delivered to the house.

It’s raining that day, and Gatsby is afraid that the rain will ruin his plans, or that Daisy may not come. She does, and Gatsby meets her in the living room.

The pair are quite nervous and anxious when they first meet. Nick stands outside on the porch trying to give the pair some privacy. When he returns, he finds them completely enthralled with one another. They don’t even seem to notice Nick!

The rain stops, and Daisy asks Gatsby if that’s his house next door. Gatsby tells her that it is, and that he earned the money to buy it outright in just three years.

Nick begins to say that Gatsby had told him earlier about inheriting his money and possibly the house when Gatsby interrupts and says that he actually lost most of his money in 1914 and had to go into business to recoup his earnings.

The trio goes to Gatsby’s mansion, and it’s clear that Daisy is impressed with Gatsby’s wealth, and Gatsby is impressed with Daisy. He never takes his eyes off of her as he shows her around.

Gatsby shows Daisy his “closet”, filled with shirts in every color of the rainbow. Daisy cries at how beautiful his shirts are.

Gatsby shows Nick and Daisy the green light from Daisy’s boat dock and how it is directly across the bay from his dock.

green light on dock

Nick notes the photos of certain people in Gatsby’s room and asks about an older gentleman. Gatsby says that the man is Dan Cody, and that they were best friends until he died.

When Jay Gatsby starts showing Daisy how he has kept a scrapbook with every newspaper cutting and letter she ever sent him, Nick tries to leave but is cajoled into staying just a while longer.

Daisy wants to dance, so Gatsby has the staff wake up his border, Klipspringer, and asks him to play some tunes on the piano.

Everyone dances for a while, and when Klipspringer plays a slow song, Daisy and Gatsby start dancing close to one another, allowing Nick to finally go home and leave the happy couple alone.

Why Is Chapter 5 the Beginning of Gatsby’s Downfall?

During the past 5 years, Gatsby has dreamed of having Daisy back in his life. Everything he has ever done, planned for, and dreamed about has been about Daisy and for Daisy.

During this period, Gatsby only dreamed of what things would be like once he had Daisy back. He fantasized about their life together, the things they would do, and the places they would go.

Those dreams are now a reality. In fantasies and dreams, one can control everything about it, but this isn’t true when you are dealing with reality.

Gatsby’s dream is on the horizon, and Daisy is back in his life. However, Gatsby cannot control what Daisy thinks or what she might do, and this is when things begin to go south for Gatsby’s hopes and dreams.

green light background while Gatsby and Daisy dance together

The green light at the end of Daisy’s boat dock has lost its significance. It’s no longer a hopeful light, it’s just another dock light.

Is this also true with Daisy? Is Jay about to see Daisy’s flaws and realize that she’s only human, after all?

Gatsby is about to see the real Daisy Buchanan in the next few chapters, and despite seeing what Daisy is really able to give, Gatsby won’t recognize it, not even in the end.

What Is Chapter 5 All About in The Great Gatsby?

In this chapter, the reader discovers Gatsby’s dream and sees the love that Gatsby and Daisy share.

Via Nick’s ‘introduction’, Gatsby and Daisy are reunited, which is the completion of half of Gatsby’s dream.

However, the reader discovers that this really is only half of Gatsby’s dream. He has impressed Daisy, and they appear to still be madly in love after all this time, but Gatsby doesn’t really “have” Daisy just yet.

Daisy’s arrival at Gatsby’s mansion is the first half, now Gatsby needs to convince Daisy to leave her husband Tom, even divorce Tom, and marry Gatsby.

Despite Nick telling Gatsby that he can’t recreate the past, Gatsby won’t hear of it. The second half of Gatsby’s dream is to return to where he and Daisy were 5 years ago. Divorce Tom as if they were never married and start over loving only each other.

Why Was Daisy Crying in Chapter 5?

As Gatsby is showing Daisy his mansion, he also shows her his vast collection of shirts that he has custom-made in England in a wide range of colors. He tells Daisy that he never wears the same shirt twice.

As Gatsby starts throwing the shirts around, Daisy grabs some of them and starts crying. When asked why she was crying, Daisy says that she’s never seen such beautiful shirts before.

Daisy comes from a wealthy family and is married into more wealth through her husband Tom. Surely she’s seen plenty of shirts before.

The reader can take Daisy’s tears to mean one of two things, possibly even both of these points at the same time:

      1. Daisy is really happy, to the point of tears, that Gatsby has enough wealth to keep her happy and satisfied.

     2. Daisy doesn’t really love Gatsby, but she does love money and the sight of all this wealth in the form of shirts brings her to tears.

It’s possible that Daisy feels both at the same time. Or could Daisy be crying for herself? She may be thinking that if only she had waited for Gatsby, she could still have money and be in love at the same time.

Some have said that Daisy was only interested in Gatsby for his money, but other than these tears, we don’t have any real evidence that this was true.

Why Is Chapter 5 So Important?

Author F. Scott Fitzgerald made Chapter 5 the point at which everything in the book is hinged.

Why Is Chapter 5 of Great Gatsby So Important

Gatsby goes from dreaming about having Daisy in his life to actually having her. Daisy goes from wondering whatever happened to her young suitor Gatsby and finding out that he’s still alive, well, and apparently, very wealthy.

When Gatsby and Jordan talk at his party a few nights before, he had told Jordan about his previous relationship with Daisy.

This all changes after Nick invites Daisy to tea to meet Gatsby. This is no longer a dream, something Gatsby had worked for and imagined for 5 years—it’s now beginning to manifest into reality.

Even Nick realizes that everything is changing for Gatsby, and Nick wonders if Daisy will live up to Gatsby’s dreams of her and his dreams about their lives together.

The Most Famous Quotes from Chapter 5

Chapter 5 is almost a magical chapter, so it’s not surprising to see that so many terrific quotes come from it.

Some of the best and most famous quotes are:

You’re selling bonds, aren’t you, old sport?… Well, this would interest you. It wouldn’t take up much of your time, and you might pick up a nice bit of money. It happens to be a rather confidential sort of thing.

Gatsby offers Nick a side job, apparently in exchange of the favor he was asking from Nick.

I realize now that under different circumstances that conversation might have been one of the crises of my life. But, because the offer was obviously and tactlessly for a service to be rendered, I had no choice except to cut him off there.

Nick tells Gatsby that he isn’t interested in whatever it is that he is being offered.

Daisy put her arm through his abruptly but he seemed absorbed in what he had just said. Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever.

Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy, it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one.

After explaining to Daisy and Nick about the green light, Gatsby seems to have come to the realization that he will never look at that light the same way ever again. Could the same thing happen to Gatsby’s idea of Daisy herself?

Suddenly, with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily.
‘They’re such beautiful shirts,’ she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. ‘It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such– such beautiful shirts before.’

Daisy’s tears at the sight of Gatsby’s shirts is an interesting display.

There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams—not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything.

He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.

Even Nick wonders if Daisy can match the fantasies that Gatsby has built around her.

What Did Gatsby Tell Nick About Dan Cody in Chapter 5?

Nick is also getting a good look at Gatsby’s mansion for the first time. Although Nick had attended parties there, the house must look very different minus all the people, waiters, and dancing girls.


This is when Nick notices a photo of an older gentleman on the wall in Gatsby’s bedroom. Nick assumes it’s Gatsby’s father, but no, Gatsby tells him that the man’s name was Dan Cody, and they were best friends before Cody died.

Even now, Gatsby doesn’t tell the entire truth to Nick. Perhaps he doesn’t think that this is the proper time, or perhaps he’s just so accustomed to lying about his past that it comes naturally to him.

Either way, Gatsby doesn’t tell Nick the full story, and in fact, he seems eager to change the subject. Gatsby reflects on the past for a moment before calling Klipspringer to wake up and play some music for them.

Final Thoughts

One might say that Chapter 5 is the sunny day before the storm or the happiest day in Gatsby’s life for the past 5 years. Both would be true.

Leaving Gatsby and Daisy alone in Gatsby’s mansion, Nick notes that the real-life woman may not be everything that Gatsby had imagined or made her out to be.

Daisy is now a married woman with a small child, which is not something that Gatsby seems to have planned for, as we will discover in another chapter.

The Great Gatsby Chapter 5 Summary & Annotations: In Simple Terms
The Great Gatsby Chapter 5 Summary & Annotations: In Simple Terms
If you’re interested in Chapter 5 of The Great Gatsby but short on time, this summary explains what happened, the important quotes, and more.
Gatsby Flapper Girl