Jordan Baker: careless driver, cheat and … Gatsby’s source?

We were reading Chapter 3 today and an idea grew which is worth considering even if only to reject:

Jordan is Gatsby’s way in to regaining Daisy.  how else would he know to invite Nick, let alone to ‘recognise’ him from the army… It is clear that Nick does not reciprocate the memory.

  • Nick receives and invitation. He is one of very few who do and while Gatsby may be simply honouring social convention, it is very convenient that he nor only invites the single person who can lead Daisy to him, but then manages to bump into him, once Nick has been corralled by Jordan.
  • Nick floats around until seeing Jordan: ‘came out of the house…. stood leaning back and gazed with contemptuous interest down at the garden’. Her arrogance is not in doubt from this body language, but what if she is looking for Nick, who makes a bee-line towards her.
  • At this point we need to recall 2 things from chapter 1: she knows Gatsby via the parties and is exceedingly interested in Tom’s affair – Daisy’s interests seem to fall into this category.
  • We do not yet know, due to the analeptic structure of the text, that she and Daisy grew up together and that she knows the power of the love between Daisy and Gatsby. Certainly, given the events of the party, it is not unreasonable to allow a surmise that she is already working for Gatsby and is part of the plan to ‘land’ Nick.
  • Nick is highly favoured – not only recognised but immediately offered a ride in the hydroplane-  a very warm welcome for the poor neighbour unless there is already a plan afoot.
  • Nick spends his evening with Jordan – they are attracted and she is happy to have his company. Nick is typically carried away in his response – ‘her slender golden arm…’ suggests that he is in thrall, rather than merely friendly.
  • As the party continues, Nick is sitting with Jordan and ‘a man about my age…’ who asks him about the army.  Surely this is a coincidence too far: from the hundreds of thousands of soldiers… it must be an opening gambit which hooks Nick -he cannot ignore a former comrade-in-arms. Gatsby has met him.
  • Jordan’s question ‘having a gay time now’ seems knowing. The ‘now’ is not needed unless she knows what Nick has craved – and been party to achieving it.
  • After Gatsby is called away by business, we learn that she and Gatsby have a ‘past’ of sorts: ‘he once told me….’  They have met and talked together -is it too far-fetched to consider that this might have touched on Daisy- after all they all know each other from a time before. If so, all that is needed is for Jordan to let Gatsby know how valuable his neighbour might be to him.
  • When she is summoned to speak to Gatsby ‘alone’ we wonder why. If he has no prior knowledge of Nick from her, why would he wish to use her as a go-between? It makes no sense and nobody has discussed Buchanans all night . As she rises she ‘raised her eyebrows …in astonishment’. Maybe. But Nick is such an unreliable narrator – might what he sees as astonishment be amusement? NA arch comment on what lies in store. Nick does not read people well – is he to be believed here?
  • When the y emerge, there is clearly an excited chemistry between them and Jordan cannot resist ‘tantalizing’ Nick, although he reads this as ‘abstractedly’. I do not believe Jordan does anything without a considered effect – even her ennui in chapter 1 is designed to fascinate.
  • IN Chapter 4 she tells the history of the three – and links herself to Gatsby, although she says she did not realise it until Nick mentioned him and daisy gave herself away. Since Nick has told us that time has elapsed between that party chez Buchanan and the party he attends with Gatsby, I think we should allow the thought that Jordan has let Gatsby know the importance of his neighbour to ruminate for a while.  It might also explain why she enters into the relationship with Nick- as describe din Chapter 3 it is hardly a romance of passion.

Anyway, have a think….