Chapter 4 opens with Nick juxtaposing the church going people with the people who enjoy Gatsby’s hospitality. Contrasting these images emphasizes the contradictory nature of the people Nick encounters throughout the novel; whether they are new money or old money, these people are morally challenged and judgmental, and definitely unworthy of the hospitality Gatsby showers on them. (Nick refers to these people often as “moths”—a telling and appropriate description for the purposeless, powdery creatures who crash Gatsby’s parties.)
On Sunday morning while church bells rang in the villages along shore the world and its mistress returned to Gatsby’s house and twinkled hilariously on his lawn.
“He’s a bootlegger,” said the young ladies, moving somewhere between his cocktails and his flowers. “One time he killed a man who had found out that he was nephew to von Hindenburg and second cousin to the devil. Reach me a rose, honey, and pour me a last drop into that there crystal glass.”
Nick is disgusted with these people; however, Gatsby is not immune from Nick’s judgment. Throughout this chapter, Nick shows how Gatsby himself is a contradiction. Gatsby constructs a fantastic tale about his past in order to make Nick believe he is worthy of Daisy, which only infuriates Nick. By the end of the chapter, Jordan Baker shares the truth about Gatsby and Daisy, which helps Nick understand him a little bit better: “He came alive to me, delivered suddenly from the womb of his purposeless splendor.” In Nick’s eyes, Gatsby has now separated himself from the moths.
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