Gatsby Chapter 4 Summary

Chapter Summaries from Cliffs Notes

Chapter 4 opens with a cataloguing of Gatsby's party guests: the Chester Beckers, the Leeches, Doctor Webster Civet, the Hornbeams, the Ismays, the Chrysties, and so on. From socialites and debutantes to the famous and the infamous, Gatsby's parties draw only the most fashionable of people. One fellow, Klipspringer, in fact, was at Gatsby's house so often and so long that he became known as simply "the boarder."

One late July morning, Gatsby arrives at Nick's and announces they are having lunch that day in New York. During the "disconcerting ride" to the city, Gatsby attempts to clear the record about his past so that Nick wouldn't "get a wrong idea" by listening to the rumors. Nick is suspicious, however, when he hears Gatsby reveal that he was born into a wealthy Midwest family (in San Francisco) and educated at Oxford, "a family tradition." After touring Europe, Gatsby served as a major in the military where he "tried very hard to die" but, in his own words, "seemed to bear an enchanted life." As in testament to this disclosure, Gatsby is pulled over for speeding, but is let go after producing a card from the police commissioner for whom Gatsby had once done a favor.

In New York, two important things happen to Nick. First, at lunch Nick meets Meyer Wolfshiem, a professional gambler and the man rumored to have fixed the 1919 World Series. Wolfshiem is Gatsby's link to organized crime and there is an intimation that Gatsby may be able to fix Nick up with Wolfshiem in an undisclosed venture (this hint is again brought out in Chapter 5).

The second memorable thing which happened to Nick comes through Jordan Baker. She recounts how one morning in 1917 she met Daisy and an unknown admirer, a military officer, who watched Daisy "in a way that every young girl wants to be looked at." His name: Jay Gatsby. Daisy's family didn't approve of the match and so she eventually turned her attentions away from Gatsby and to Tom Buchanan. On the day before the wedding, Daisy reconsidered her actions but after a drunken cry, she thought better of her situation and married Tom. The following April, Daisy gave birth to a daughter. Jordan continues, noting what Gatsby told her on the night of the party. Apparently, it was not coincidence that brought him to West Egg: He purposely selected his house so that the house of his lost love would be just across the bay. Jordan then relays Gatsby's request: that Nick invite Daisy over some afternoon so he can arrange to come by and see her, as if by accident. She is to know nothing about the intended reunion with her former lover; it is all supposed to be a surprise.