The Great Gatsby: Novel Summary: Chapter 6

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Chapter 6

In Fitzgerald's sixth chapter, Nick reveals Gatsby's true history, in an attempt to explode "those first wild rumors about his antecedents, which weren't even faintly true" (107). In reality, Jay Gatsby is James Gatz, son of unsuccessful farmers from the Midwest. In a chance encounter with Dan Cody -- a fifty year old ex-millionaire -- on Lake Superior, however, young Gatz had introduced himself as Gatsby. Thus, the ambitious Gatz birthed a newfound persona, "just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen year old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end" (104). For more on Gatsby's history, please see the Character Profiles section.

After Nick's revelations, he relaxes at Gatsby's one summer afternoon when somebody brings Tom Buchanan in for a drink. Gatsby becomes increasingly confident in his interaction with Tom -- who remains oblivious to Gatsby's continued affair with Daisy -- even inviting him to stay for dinner. Although he refuses, Tom does accompany his wife to Gatsby's party that weekend. By the end of the awkward evening, Tom demands to know who Gatsby
is and what he does, vowing ominously to "make a point of finding out" (115).

Nick lingers with his neighbor after Tom and Daisy leave, and discerns that Gatsby "wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should go to Tom and say: 'I never loved you'" (116). After destroying her past with Tom with that statement, Daisy would then marry Gatsby in Louisville, "just as if it were five years ago" (116). Gatsby, essentially, wishes to obliterate and re-write the past, and truly believes that he can, determining to "fix everything just the way it was before" (117).