The Great Gatsby Chapter 3 - Summary

Nick describes the elaborate party preparations that go on at his neighbor, Gatsby's house every week. For example, cases of oranges are delivered, caterers appear and set up elaborate decorations and tables of food, and a huge bar is installed. This last detail is particularly interesting because the novel is set during Prohibition, a time in the United States when buying and selling alcohol was illegal.

Nick finally receives an invitation to one of Gatsby's parties. He is very impressed that he is one of the few people at the party to have been formally invited. He learns that most people simply arrive at Gatsby's house, expecting there to be a party in progress.

Once he arrives at the party, Nick spends quite a bit of time trying to find Gatsby. No one seems to know Gatsby, even though they are all guests in his home. Nick unexpectedly runs into Jordan Baker, Daisy's friend whom he met at the dinner party in Chapter 1. He and Jordan spend time together and overhear and share several rumors they and others have heard about Gatsby. There are rumors that Gatsby killed a man and that he is a bootlegger, or someone who produces and markets alcohol illegally.

Nick strikes up a conversation with a man, and after a while realizes he is actually talking to his host, Jay Gatsby. He is embarrassed to have not recognized him, but Gatsby puts him at ease, and invites him to go up in his hydroplane in the morning. Gatsby asks Jordan if he can speak with her privately. While he waits for Jordan, Nick wanders into Gatsby's library and meets a man who notes how impressive Gatsby's efforts to project a certain image are. The books in the library are real. They have never been read, but the man is impressed that Gatsby went to the trouble of buying real books.

When Jordan returns to Nick, she won't tell him what they discussed, but does reveal that is "the most amazing thing." Jordan asks Nick to come and see her at her aunt's house before leaving with the friends she arrived with. Nick says good night to Gatsby and walks home, noting a drunken party that has put their car in a ditch near Gatsby's house.

Nick ends the chapter buy describing some of the other things he's done in the summer: he's worked, made friends with some of the other clerks, and had a short affair with a girl from work, until her brother started giving him dirty looks. He spent time at the Yale Club and at the library. He also spent some time trying to learn more about Jordan Baker, and discovered that she had been accused of cheating at golf, and that she was actually quite dishonest

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