The reader finally meets Gatsby in Chapter 3. What’s intriguing about this chapter is that Nick plays with the myth that surrounds Gatsby by presenting him as a magician or an actor of sorts, putting on a big show for all his guests. The elaborateness of the ruse culminates when Nick describes Gatsby’s confidence-filled smile, only to pull back the curtain to reveal a slightly bumbling Oz-like character:
He smiled understandingly–much more than understandingly. It was 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 concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just so 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. Precisely at that point it vanished–and I was looking at an elegant young rough-neck, 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.
The vital picture of his dichotomy will be reduced to a smile on the big screen. I’m confident that, of all actors, Leonardo DiCaprio will add depth to that smile, but if viewers aren’t looking for it, they may miss it.
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