Gatsby Chapter 3 Summary

Chapter Summaries from Cliffs Notes

Nick's attentions again turn to Gatsby in Chapter 3. Gatsby, in the summer months, was known far and wide for the extravagant parties he threw in which "men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars." During the weekend, people flocked to his house for his parties, as well as to use his pool, his boats, his car, and so on. His gatherings were lavishly catered (serving two complete dinners), boasting not just a small combo of musicians, but a whole orchestra. The guests enjoyed themselves, flirting and dancing, until the wee hours of the morning.

After seeing these parties from afar, Nick is invited by Gatsby by a handwritten note to join in the festivities. Nick is one of the few to have actually been invited. The others simply arrive, knowing only that there will be a party and they won't be turned away. At the party, Nick tries to find Gatsby, but has no luck. No one can tell him where Gatsby is, suggesting that they, themselves, didn't know the host. As Nick mills around the party, he encounters Jordan Baker and the two of them two mingle around, inadvertently gathering rumors about Gatsby, including that he had once killed a man. After several glasses of champagne, Nick begins a conversation with a fellow who is, unbeknownst to him, Gatsby himself. Later, Gatsby takes Jordan Baker aside to speak with her privately. What they discuss is not revealed, but Jordan passes along that it is "the most amazing thing."

Not wanting the reader to think his summer was composed merely of the three events outlined in the book's first three chapters, Nick interjects that much more happened to him, although it largely entailed working, dating casually, and dining at the Yale Club. His affinity for New York has been growing throughout the summer as he begins to appreciate its "enchanted metropolitan twilight" and how everyone hurried "toward gayety." Nick meets up with Jordan Baker in mid-summer and as the two begin to see more of each other, Nick begins to look upon her with "a sort of tender curiosity." He realizes, though, that Jordan is "incurably dishonest." In fact, the reason Nick remembered her name initially is that she had once been accused of cheating in a golf tournament. Despite Jordan's downfalls, she intrigues Nick, although he ends the chapter by touting his own cardinal virtue, claiming modestly, "I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known."