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Chapter by Chapter Countdown to Gatsby ... Chapter Four

Tobey Maguire's Nick isn't sure what to think of The Great Gatsby

" "I'll tell you God's truth." His right hand suddenly ordered divine retribution to stand by. "I am the son of some wealthy people in the Middle West-all dead now. I was brought up in America but educated at Oxford, because all my ancestors have been educated there for many years. It is a family tradition."

He looked at me sideways-and I knew why Jordan Baker had believed he was lying. He hurried the phrase "educated at Oxford," or swallowed it, or choked on it, as though it had bothered him before. And with this doubt, his whole statement fell to pieces, and I wondered if there wasn't something a little sinister about him, after all.

"What part of the Middle West?" I inquired casually.

"San Francisco."

" I see.    "
  Chapter 4, page 5

In the run up to the May 10th release of Baz Luhrmann's splashy 3D version of The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire,  I've been posting a chapter by chapter peek at a passage in the novel paired with a shot from the film. This bit from Chapter Four takes place in Gatsby's gorgeous car on the way into the city; Gatsby is going to drop Nick off at his office ... It's one of my favorite reveals into Gatsby's desperate need to be The Great Gatsby; Fitzgerald's coupling of Gatsby's claim to an Oxford education with his fuzzy knowledge of US geography stirs our sympathy even while we see the truth behind the lie.  And then a bit later, when Gatsby shows Nick the photo from Oxford; we sway again, wanting to believe him.

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Read F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby at PublicBookShelf.com