Gatsby Chapter 6 Summary

Chapter Summaries from Cliffs Notes

Chapter 6 opens with an air of suspicion as a reporter comes to Gatsby, asking him "if he had anything to say." The myth of Gatsby was becoming so great by summer's end that he was rumored to be embroiled in a variety of plots and schemes, inventions that provided a source of satisfaction to Gatsby, who was originally christened James Gatz and hails from North Dakota. Nick fills the reader in on Gatsby's real background, which is in sharp contrast to the fabricated antecedents Gatsby told Nick during their drive to New York. James Gatz became Jay Gatsby on the fateful day when, on the shores of Lake Superior, he saw Dan Cody drop anchor on his yacht. Prior to that time, Gatsby spent part of his young adulthood roaming parts of Minnesota shaping the aspects of the persona he would assume. Nick suspects he had the name ready prior to meeting Cody, but it was Cody who gave Gatsby the opportunity to hone the fiction that would define his life. Cody, fifty years old with a penchant for women, took Gatsby under his wing and prepared him for the yachting life, and they embarked for the West Indies and the Barbary Coast. During their five years together, Cody and Gatsby went around the continent three times; in the end, Cody was mysteriously undone by his lady love.

After many weeks of not seeing Gatsby (largely because Nick was too busy spending time with Jordan), Nick goes to visit. Shortly after his arrival, Tom Buchanan and two others out for a horseback ride show up for a drink. After exchanging social small talk wherein Gatsby is invited to dine with the group, the three riders abruptly leave without him, somewhat taken aback that he accepted what they deem to be a purely rhetorical invitation.

Tom, apparently concerned with Daisy's recent activities, accompanies her to one of Gatsby's parties. Gatsby tries to impress the Buchanans by pointing out all the celebrities present, then makes a point of introducing Tom, much to his unease, as "the polo player." Gatsby and Daisy dance, marking the only time Gatsby really gets involved with one of his own parties. Later, Daisy and Gatsby adjourn to Nick's steps for a half-hour of privacy. They head back to the party and when dinner arrives, Tom remarks he wishes to eat with another group. Daisy, always aware of what Tom is really up to, remarks the girl is "common but pretty" and offers a pencil in case he wants to take down an address. Daisy, aside from the half-hour she spends with Gatsby, finds the party unnerving and appalling. After the Buchanans leave and the party breaks up, Nick and Gatsby review the evening. Gatsby, fearing Daisy did not have a good time, worries about her. When Nick cautions Gatsby that "You can't repeat the past," Gatsby idealistically answers "Why of course you can!" words that strike Nick soundly because of their "appalling sentimentality," which both delights and disgusts him.