HomeBooks And NovelsThe Great Gatsby Chapter 5 Summary, Synopsis

The Great Gatsby Chapter 5 Summary, Synopsis

Summary

Nick returns home from the city that night after a date with Jordan. He is surprised to see Gatsby’s mansion brightly lit, but it appears to be empty, as the house is completely silent. Gatsby approaches Nick from across the lawn as he walks home, startling him. Gatsby appears agitated and almost desperate to please Nick, inviting him to Coney Island and then to swim in his pool. Gatsby is nervous, Nick realizes because he wants Nick to consent to his plan of inviting Daisy over for tea.

Nick informs Gatsby that he will assist him with the plan. Gatsby, overjoyed, immediately provides to have Nick’s grass cut. He also offers him the opportunity to make some money by joining him in a side business he runs that does not involve Meyer Wolfsheim. Nick is mildly annoyed that Gatsby likes to pay him for arranging the meeting with Daisy, and he declines Gatsby’s offers, but he agrees to call Daisy and invite her to his residence.

On the day of the meeting, it rains, and Gatsby becomes extremely nervous. Despite the rain, Gatsby dispatches a gardener to cut Nick’s grass and another man to deliver flowers. Gatsby is concerned that even if Daisy chooses to accept his advances, their relationship will not be the same as it was in Louisville.

Daisy arrives, but then when Nick brings her into the house, he discovers that Gatsby has mysteriously vanished. A knock is heard at the door. Gatsby enters after returning from a rainy walk around the house.

Gatsby’s reunion with Daisy is initially awkward. Gatsby knocks over Nick’s clock and tells him, regretfully, that the meeting was indeed a mistake. However, after leaving the two alone for half an hour, Nick returns to find them radiantly happy—Daisy crying with joy and Gatsby glowing.

Outside, the rain has done stop, and Gatsby invites Nick and Daisy to his home to show them his belongings. Daisy is taken aback by his lavish lifestyle, and she bursts into tears when he shows her his impressive collection of English shirts. Daisy recounts Gatsby’s long nights spent outdoors, staring just at a green light at the end of her dock, daydreaming about their future happiness.

Daisy can’t possibly live up to Gatsby’s vision of her, Nick wonders. Daisy appears to have been idealized in Gatsby’s mind to the point where the real Daisy, endearing as she is, will almost certainly fall short of his expectations. For the time being, their romance appears to be fully rekindled. Klipspringer, a strange character who appears to live at Gatsby’s mansion, is summoned by Gatsby and asked to play the piano. Klipspringer performs the popular song “Ain’t We Got Fun?” Nick quickly realizes that Gatsby and Daisy have completely forgotten about him. Nick gets up quietly and leaves Gatsby and Daisy alone together.

Analysis

The pivotal chapter of The Great Gatsby is Chapter 5, as Gatsby’s reunion with Daisy is the novel’s hinge. Prior to this event, the story of their relationship existed only in hindsight, as Gatsby pursued a dream that no one else could see.

Following that, the plot shifts its focus to Gatsby and Daisy’s romance, and the tensions in their relationship become apparent. Following the revelation of Gatsby’s history with Daisy, a meeting between the two is unavoidable, and it is highly appropriate that the theme of the past’s significance to the future is invoked in this chapter.

As the novel progresses and the reader learns more about love, excess, and the American dream, it becomes clear that Gatsby’s emotional frame is out of sync with the passage of time. His anxiety about the present and Daisy’s changing attitude toward him causes him to knock over Nick’s clock, symbolizing the clumsiness of his attempt to prevent time and retrieve the past.

Throughout his meeting with Daisy, Gatsby’s character is at its most pure and revealing. The theatrical quality that he frequently projects fades, and for the first time, all of his responses appear genuine. He abandons the position of the Oxford-educated socialite and portrays himself as a love-struck, awkward young man.

Daisy, too, is moved to sincerity when her emotions take over. Daisy’s usual sardonic humor is on display before the meeting; when Nick wants to invite her to tea and asks her to just not bring Tom, she responds, “Who is ‘Tom?'” Seeing Gatsby, however, strips her of her glib exterior. When she visits Gatsby’s mansion, she is overcome with genuine joy at his success and sobs when seeing his piles of costly English shirts.

Learn why Daisy cries over Gatsby’s shirts.

Tolerance is one of the main qualities Nick claims to have, along with honesty. On one level, his arrangement of the meeting elevates his practice of tolerance almost to the level of complicity—just as he tolerates Tom’s antics with Myrtle, he facilitates the start of Daisy’s extramarital affair, potentially jeopardizing her marriage.

Ironically, Nick is disgusted by the moral decay he witnesses among New York’s wealthy. However, Nick’s actions may be justified in part by the intense and sincere romance that Gatsby and Daisy clearly feel for each other, love that Nick perceives to be lacking in Daisy’s relationship with Tom.

Learn more about Nick, the novel’s narrator, and his conflicted tone.

Gatsby’s house is compared to that of a feudal lord several times in this chapter, and his imported clothes, antiques, and luxuries all reflect a nostalgia for the lifestyle of a British aristocrat. Though Nick and Daisy are astounded and dazzled by Gatsby’s magnificent possessions, a number of things in Nick’s narrative suggest that something is wrong with this transplantation of an aristocratic lifestyle into democratic America. For example, Nick observes that the brewer who built the house where Gatsby now resides attempted to pay the neighboring villagers to have their roofs thatched to match the style of the mansion.

They refused, Nick claims because Americans are adamantly opposed to playing the role of peasants. Thomas Jefferson as well as the other founding fathers envisioned America as a place free of class and caste injustices, a place where people from humble backgrounds could strive to improve themselves economically and socially. According to Chapter 5, if this dream of improvement is pursued to its logical conclusion, it will result in a superficial imitation of an old European social structure that America left behind.

Maria Gaspar
Maria Gaspar
Maria is an Ireland-based freelance writer. She has over seven years of expertise managing corporate blogs, social media, and public relations efforts. She has a degree in English Literature from the University of England and has studied journalism with the National Council of Teachers of Journalism.
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