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"What!" I exclaimed. "Oh, I beg your pardon.
"I thought you knew, old sport. I'm afraid I'm not a very good host."
He smiled understandingly - much more than understandingly. It was a one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced - or seemed to face - the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on YOU just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey. Character Analysis The roar of the 1920's were nothing short of spectacular. It was a time of unbridled living bursting from the intrepid confines of a previous decade's march of war. People were searching for a release, a newly envisioned freedom, and it was found within the individual and exhibited in the culture. In Chapter 3 of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, THE GREAT GATSBY, the readers are introduced to Jay Gatsby, a character that ultimately epitomizes the arrival of a new kind of man in 1920's society - a man of mystery and man of resource. The readers' first encounter with Jay Gatsby is subversive. The author chooses to bring the character into the novel by allowing him to be unseen and unknown by the very people at his party. One must understand through indirect characterization that Jay Gatsby's being in the very presence of the book's narrator, Nick Carraway and his female companion of the night, Jordan Baker, without either one of them knowing his identity is but the essence of who this character is. He is a mystery to all those that encounter him even to the point that people can be around him, indulge in his parties and luxuries, talk with him and still not know him. This is even more evident by the last lines of the passage where Nick asks, "Who is he?" and Jordan responds, "Just a man named Gatsby." Man of Mystery While the readers' first encounter with Jay Gatsby gleans a mysterious element, there's also the obvious attribute of Jay Gatsby's tactfulness. The narrator of the story, Nick Carraway is at a disadvantage when he meets Jay Gatsby. Gatsby knows him but he does not know Gatsby. Nick, although he doesn't pick up on the importance of his first impression of Gatsby, perceives the man very well initially. He sees that Gatsby is being careful with him, choosing words specifically to give a certain portrait of himself, citing his "elaborate formality of speech just missed being absurd." In addition to Gatsby word choices Nick immediately sees Gatsby's lure - "He smiled understandingly - much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance..." Here, the author uses Nick to not only show the readers what Nick is seeing but also what Nick is not seeing; Jay Gatsby is a man of resource and part of his character is absorbing the likes of people around him and assimilating. Nick touches on this when he says, "It faced - or seemed to face - the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice of favor" (in response to Gatsby's smile). Man of Resource Literary Devices/Elements Imagery
Indirect Characterization Cont'd Precisely at that point it vanished - and I was looking at an elegant young roughneck, a year or two over thirty, whose elaborate formality of speech just missed being absurd. Some time before he introduced himself I'd got a strong impression that he was picking his words with care.
Almost at the moment when Mr. Gatsby identified himself, a butler hurried toward him with the information that Chicago was calling him on the wire. He excused himself with a small bow that included each of us in turn.
"If you want anything just ask for it, old sport," he urged me. "Excuse me. I will join you later."
When he was gone I turned immediately to Jordan - constrained to assure her my surprise. I had expected that Gatsby would be a florid and corpulent person in his middle years.
"Who is he?" I demanded. "Do you know?"
"He's just a man named Gatsby."
"Where is he from, I mean? And what does he do?"