The Great Gatsby (2013 Film)

The Great Gatsby (2013 Film) Summary and Analysis of Part 2: The Mysterious Gatsby


The raucous party continues. Modern pop music plays and Nick dances as people jump into the pool. Nick extends his hand and asks Jordan to dance with him, and she accepts. The song ends with a burst of streamers and confetti, and Jordan’s friend, a snobby man who dismisses Nick as “penniless,” grabs Jordan’s hand and leads her away. A bandleader announces a “jazz history of the world” and fireworks outside, as Nick follows Jordan and her friend. Nick recognizes a ring on a passing waiter’s finger, and Jordan’s friend recognizes Nick from the war. An unseen man then approaches Nick and asks him if he’s having a good time. Nick tells the stranger that he is, pulling out the invitation that Gatsby sent and whispering the various unseemly rumors about Gatsby in the stranger’s ear. The stranger turns around, smirking, and reveals that he is Gatsby, as fireworks burst behind him and he raises a toast. Nick says that Gatsby’s smile is the kind of smile that “seemed to understand and believe in you just as you would like to be understood and believed in.” The two men smile at each other, and Nick apologizes for his gossip. A servant approaches Gatsby and tells him that there is a phone call for him in the other room, and Gatsby leads Nick up the stairs, inviting him on his hydroplane the following day. Nick accepts his invitation as the two men approach the top of the stairs and Gatsby kisses Jordan’s hand greeting her. Gatsby excuses himself, as Nick and Jordan stand, bemused at Gatsby’s mysterious comportment. The man that seems to be Gatsby’s assistant tells Jordan that Gatsby wants to see her, which surprises her, and Gatsby waits nearby. Nick watches Jordan go into the house, curious, and fireworks explode all around.

The party is winding down, but guests still play with confetti, as Nick lounges on a sofa and a woman lounges on a piano, singing. Nick looks around at the various art and photos on the wall, before standing and exploring the fading party. Jordan rushes down the stairs calling for Nick, and telling him that she’s learned amazing news and that “it all makes sense!” As her snobby friend ushers her into the car and they begin to drive away, she apologizes to Nick, telling him that she swore she wouldn’t tell Gatsby’s secret. Nick waves goodbye as they drive away, before walking back up towards the house, where Gatsby stands and reminds him that they are going in his hydroplane the following day. Gatsby’s assistant whispers to him that Philadelphia is on the phone, Gatsby says his goodnights and wanders back into the house. Nick then waves to Jordan who yells to him to call her next week. Back in his driveway, Nick looks up at Gatsby, who waves to him, then walks into his house, narrating his growing friendship with the wealthy eccentric. He concludes his description to the doctor in the sanatarium in voiceover: “I realized I knew nothing about Gatsby at all.”

Nick is interrupted one morning at his cottage by the buzzing of a yellow car loudly pulling into his driveway. It is Gatsby, who smiles and informs Nick that they are going to lunch. Gatsby speeds down the road recklessly, Nick holding on for dear life. When Gatsby asks Nick what his opinion is of him—worried about the slew of rumors going on around him—Nick is speechless. Gatsby tells Nick that he is the son of some “very wealthy people from the Middle West—sadly all of them are dead now,” and continues to speed down the road. Swerving around a corner, he tells Nick that he went to Oxford, “a family tradition,” but in voiceover Nick says, “The way he spoke; no matter people thought he was lying.” Gatsby continues to spin an elaborate biography as they drive through the Valley of Ashes towards Manhattan. Gatsby continues his story, telling Nick that he was a war hero, who claims to have “single-handedly defeated the German army” in WWI. Nick is skeptical as they drive past the Wilsons’ store and he sees Myrtle standing outside. Gatsby jolts to a halt and shows Nick his war medal, as well as a picture of Gatsby at Oxford. “Could it all be true?” Nick wonders, as they speed past the Eckleburg billboard.

Gatsby speeds through the city and tells Nick that they are going to lunch with a man named Meyer Wolfsheim, and that Nick will have to vouch for Gatsby’s character. “I didn’t want you to think I was just some nobody,” Gatsby confides in a heartfelt way. He then tells Nick that he has a large request to make of him and that Jordan Baker will tell him more when they get tea that afternoon. A cop tries to pull the car over for speeding, but Gatsby holds out a business card, and the cop lets him go ticket-free. Gatsby explains that he did the police commissioner a favor once, and the car continues onto the Queensboro Bridge, as Nick narrates that he was “impossibly confused.” They pass a car full of black characters having a good time driving over the bridge as Jay-Z plays. Nick notices the numerous bottles of champagne in the car and smiles. The car approaches Manhattan, and Nick looks up at a plane overhead, musing on the endless possibilities of New York City: “Anything could happen, anything at all. Even Gatsby could happen.”

At a barber shop, Meyer Wolfsheim gets his hair and beard trimmed, as Gatsby comes up behind him and greets him jovially. Gatsby introduces Nick to Meyer, who tells Nick that he knows all about him already, which seems to confuse Nick. Gatsby taps on what seems to be a sign in the barber shop, and a man pops out from behind the frame. “Shall we?” asks Gatsby, and the men go into a secret luncheon spot. In a backroom speakeasy, flappers dance to a Jay-Z song and people rush to get drinks at a bar. Meyer begins to talk about a deal he has going with Gatsby, but Gatsby assures him that they will talk about that later, as the men walk to a table for lunch, greeting a number of friends of Gatsby’s, including a heavyweight boxer, the police commissioner, and a senator, who all party and drink spiritedly.

At the table, Meyer Wolfsheim asks Nick about his work in bonds and says, “I understand you’re looking for a business connection,” but Gatsby anxiously stops Meyer, assuring him that “this isn’t the man.” Meyer laughs it off, as Gatsby excuses himself to make a phone call. Meyer extols Gatsby’s fine upbringing, before rather curiously suggesting that because Gatsby is an Oxford man, he would never make a pass at a friend’s wife. Confused, Nick informs Meyer that he is unmarried, and Meyer, even more enigmatically, asks, “But you work on Wall Street, right?” When Nick agrees, he looks down at a pin on Meyer’s tie, a perfectly preserved human molar, as Gatsby comes back to the table. When Meyer leaves, Nick asks Gatsby who he is, and Gatsby informs him that Meyer’s a “gambler, “ and that he “fixed the 1919 World Series.” Just as Gatsby goes to explain the favor he needs from Nick, the men are interrupted by Tom Buchanan. Gatsby looks uncomfortable as Nick introduces him to Tom, but Tom does not seem to pay any mind to Gatsby, and tells Nick he is surprised to find him there. As Nick turns around to acknowledge Gatsby, he is surprised to find that Gatsby has vanished.

Nick meets Jordan at a rooftop restaurant, where he learns the story of Gatsby and Daisy. When Nick arrives at the table, he becomes flustered, questioning Jordan about Gatsby, which makes her uneasy. She urges him to keep his voice down and to sit, and when he won’t be quiet she informs him, “He [Gatsby] wants you to invite Daisy to tea.” Nick is confused, so Jordan tells him the full story. She tells him that she had forgotten that she actually met Gatsby 5 years earlier in Louisville, when she was a professional golfer and Gatsby and Daisy were in love. We see Jordan in flashback, and nearby, Daisy and Gatsby in a car. “The way he looked at her is the way all girls want to be looked at,” Jordan says. We then see Gatsby fighting in the war, as Jordan informs Nick that after the war, Daisy waited for Gatsby, but he couldn’t return to her, for unknown reasons. Instead Daisy married Tom Buchanan from Chicago. On the day of the wedding, Daisy received a letter which made her distraught. We see a heartbroken Daisy in flashback, ripping off a pearl necklace that Tom gave her, pearls scattering all over the floor. “What was in the letter?” Nick asks, but Jordan doesn’t know. As Jordan and Nick walk down the street, she tells him that when they were first married, Daisy and Tom seemed like they were very in love, but that Tom had an affair while they were on their honeymoon that got into the papers and hurt the marriage. When Nick marvels at the coincidence that Gatsby lives so close to Daisy, Jordan informs Tom that Gatsby’s entire life is for the purpose of being close to Daisy, and that he throws the parties in hopes that Daisy will come. Getting in a cab, Jordan gives Nick more explicit instructions: he is to invite Daisy over without warning her that Gatsby will be there.

As Nick arrives home, he notices that Gatsby’s house is completely lit up, and spots Gatsby among the trees between their two houses. When he gets out of the cab, he greets Gatsby, who invites him either to go to Coney Island with him or to go in the swimming pool, but Nick assures him that it’s late and he needs to go to bed. Gatsby seems disappointed, and Nick tells him that he plans to invite Daisy to tea the day after tomorrow. In exchange for his help, Gatsby offers Nick a stake in his side business, “a rather confidential sort of thing,” but Nick resists the offer, telling Gatsby that he is happy to do him the favor of inviting Daisy over. Gatsby says his goodnight. The next morning, Nick wakes up, confused to find his front lawn being vigorously re-landscaped by a number of gardeners. It begins to rain, and Gatsby arrives at Nick’s house, accompanied by a dozen footmen, one of whom is carrying a large cake. Gatsby seems anxious and fretfully walks into Nick’s house to make sure everything is as he would like.

Inside, Gatsby watches the clock, anxious about Daisy’s arrival. The room is filled with flowers, cakes, and pastries, and Nick sits uncomfortably by. “I think I did a fine job….do you think it’s too much?” asks Gatsby, but Nick assures him that it’s exactly what Gatsby wanted. The clock ticks and Gatsby grows more and more anxious, straightening his jacket and sitting tensely on a chair. Growing suddenly unbearably anxious, Gatsby makes moves to leave, certain that Daisy isn’t coming, but as he walks to the door, they can hear Daisy’s car horn as she approaches the cottage. Gatsby is almost out-of-breath as Nick runs out to greet Daisy. They approach the house and Daisy informs her chauffeur to come back in an hour. As Daisy walks into the living room, she is startled by the number of flowers—“Did you ransack a greenhouse?” she asks Nick. Gatsby is apparently nowhere to be found, and Nick follows Daisy into the living room, where she admires the flowers. Suddenly they are interrupted by a knock at the door, and when Nick goes to answer it, he finds Gatsby standing there, completely soaked from the rain. He walks briskly into the house, where he finds Daisy, who looks over her shoulder and spots him. The former lovers stare at one another for a moment, and Nick stands by in the hall. Dramatic music plays, as Daisy says, “I’m certainly glad to see you again,” and Gatsby echoes back, “I’m certainly glad to see you as well.”


In this part of the film, the class disparities between the characters, and the tensions that arise as a result, become more evident. At the party at Gatsby’s, Nick runs into Jordan Baker, a new friend, and they enjoy each other’s company. A snobby friend of Jordan’s, who happens to recognize Nick from the war, informs him, rather unceremoniously that, “Rich girls don’t marry poor boys,” as a way of dismissing him and trying to keep Jordan’s attention. While it is not particularly evident that Nick Carraway has any intention of trying to marry Jordan Baker, the friend’s comment shows the viewer something about how class functions in Gatsby. Just as Tom Buchanan has a dismissive response to the “new money” of West Egg, this man wants to assert his dominance over Nick by explaining how money and class factor into courtship and marriage. In The Great Gatsby, rich girls simply don’t marry poor boys. Even though Daisy is in a loveless marriage to Tom, he is undeniably wealthy, and he takes care of her materially, which keeps her chained to his side, even in the face of his numerous betrayals. Thus we can see that marriage and companionship have very little to do with love in the film, and everything to do with wealth.

The rule that “rich girls don’t marry poor boys” certainly applies to Gatsby’s logic. He makes such a show of his wealth to Nick that Nick can hardly believe he is telling the truth. Spinning a long story of inherited Midwestern wealth and expensive schooling, Gatsby strikes the image of a silver spoon life, but there is something about his tone that rings false. Gatsby is intent on proving to Nick—and by extension, the world—that he is “not just some nobody.” As the film progresses, we learn that indeed, the rich boy, old money story is all an act, and that, in fact, Gatsby has acquired his fortune in more suspicious way for the express reason of impressing his former lover, Daisy Buchanan. The adage that rich girls don’t marry poor boys tore the couples apart in the past, but Gatsby is ready to win her back now with his immense wealth. Only now that he lives in a palatial castle does Gatsby feel that he stands a chance with the elegant Daisy. Thus, we see that class is an important feature in how romance and marriage function in the film.

Not only is Gatsby’s story of immense wealth and inherited properness rather unbelievable, but his business life appears rather shady when contrasted with his biography. While Nick enjoys Gatsby’s company, he is visibly confused by the seedier elements of their lunch at the speakeasy. Meyer Wolfsheim is characterized as enigmatic, untrustworthy, and somewhat intimidating, accidentally revealing details about what sounds like a corrupt deal and sporting a pin of a human tooth. When Nick asks what Meyer’s business is, Gatsby informs him that he “fixed the 1919 World Series,” meaning that he has acquired his wealth in gambling. Additionally, Gatsby has struck a deal with the police commissioner that has made him impervious to the law. As the curtain is pulled back on Gatsby’s business world, Nick finds it to be more corrupt than he imagined. Gatsby’s biography becomes all the more unbelievable as Nick sees the seedier side of his business life. Why would an Oxford-educated war hero strike up business deals with gamblers and corruptible police commissioners?

As we learn more about Gatsby, the central love story of the film comes into focus, as does its connection to Gatsby’s extreme wealth. Daisy and Gatsby were once in love, and indeed, Gatsby hopes to win her back by impressing her with his newfound wealth and influence. While Gatsby is initially portrayed as a smooth and mysterious king, the best party host in the Hamptons, he becomes nervous, innocent, and unsophisticated when presented with the promise of being reunited with Daisy. He frets about getting his lawn cut before her arrival, and is oddly touched when Nick assures him that he is happy to invite Daisy over as a favor. Indeed, as we learn more about Gatsby, we learn that his wealth—all of it—serves one singular purpose: it is meant to impress and enchant Daisy into returning to him. Gatsby’s single-mindedness becomes clear when he has the whole of Nick’s front lawn re-landscaped in anticipation of Daisy’s arrival. Material wealth is the best way that Gatsby knows to show his affection for Daisy. While their connection is genuine and deeply romantic, Gatsby harbors a deep and relentless anxiety about whether he is “good enough” for Daisy, as shown in his displays of wealth.

Baz Luhrmann’s over-the-top direction as well as the vivid art direction remain important to the story-telling in this part of the film. The speakeasy that Gatsby, Meyer, and Nick attend is yet another display of a wild anachronistic party. As parties are indeed central to the plot of The Great Gatsby, Luhrmann’s raucous direction of these scenes of controlled chaos creates an evocative playground for the narrative. Nick marvels at the scene, as fedora-wearing senators and drunken businessmen sway, laugh, and cheer, and feathered flapper girls dance to Jay-Z on a small stage. Luhrmann’s direction of parties is at once delightfully theatrical and outrageously over-wrought, which serves to illuminate Nick’s ambivalence to such spaces. In the film, parties are at once seductive and repellant, fun but unmistakably decadent, and always inching towards the precipice of collapse. Visual elements and art direction also serve to show Gatsby’s over-the-top anxiety about his reunion with Daisy, and the ways that that anxiety is tied to his material wealth. He has an absurd number of gardeners set to work fixing Nick’s front lawn, and when we see the two men in Nick’s humble cottage, flowers and delicacies are everywhere. Nick is nearly crowded out of his own home by romantic extravagances. The art direction here is not simply over-the-top, but gargantuan; platters piled high with pastel covered macarons, pink cakes, and vases stuffed with flowers serve to comically highlight Gatsby’s devotion to winning Daisy’s affections.