Gatsby's Entrance

Gatsby 1

Jay Gatsby portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2013 film adaptation.

Interestingly enough, the first time we meet Gatsby he is an anonymous figure. Nick has a very easy and comfortable conversation with Gatsby before realizing who he is. Nick has all of these pre-conceptions of Gatsby, but in this moment Nick does not act on them since he is talking to an unknown figure. The person Nick is talking to is merely a person, no one of any real importance. In a way, Gatsby becomes more human when he is not named. Anonymity becomes a restorative process for Gatsby in this moment, a kind of cleansing that allows him to be himself around Nick. It goes back to the relationship between truth and anonymity. By this point in the narrative Nick has heard many different rumors about Gatsby, some of them negative. However, when it is revealed who Gatsby is after this anonymous moment, it is as if those negative thoughts are erased and Nick is given the opportunity to see Gatsby’s true self without consequence.

As Gatsby's introduction continues, we also begin to see how anonymity may be a conscious work in progress for Gatsby. In Nick's description of Gatsby's smile, for example, it is as if Gatsby is making a deliberate effort to turn attention away from himself. Nick describes this smile as something that "understood 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" (48). Gatsby's smile is serving as a sort of defense mechanism, not conveying personal details about Gatsby but showing how Gatsby sees you. It is as if the spotlight has now been turned onto the spectator, allowing Gatsby to observe and understand others rather than be observed.

Gatsby's Entrance