The Great Gatsby Chapter 5 Summary

Miranda Schouten, Christopher Sailus
  • Author
    Miranda Schouten

    Miranda has a BA in English from the University of Iowa and is currently pursuing her MA in secondary education. Throughout her coursework she has written and implemented several lesson plans in the classroom setting.

  • Instructor
    Christopher Sailus

    Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

Explore Chapter 5 of ''The Great Gatsby.'' Read a summary and an analysis of the chapter, find popular quotes, and learn about Gatsby's meeting with Daisy. Updated: 11/01/2021

Table of Contents


What happens in The Great Gatsby?

In F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, we follow the story of Gatsby, a wealthy businessman with questionable means of acquiring his money, through the eyes of Nick Carraway, a Yale graduate from Minnesota who has moved to New York to learn the business of trading bonds. Nick happens to rent out the small cottage on the edge of Gatsby's large property in West Egg, providing him with an up close and personal look into the fantastical life of Gatsby.

Jay Gatsby, formerly James Gatz, was an officer stationed in Louisville when he met and fell deeply in love with Daisy Fay shortly before being sent overseas to fight in World War I. When he returned home after the war had ended, he found that Daisy had moved on and married Tom Buchanan. He worked tirelessly for years to grow his wealth and eventually bought a house across the bay from Daisy and her family. He hosts lavish parties at his house frequently in hopes that one day, Daisy will walk through his front door, allowing him the opportunity to remind her how she loved him all those years ago. When she fails to find her way to his home on her own, Gatsby recruits Nick, who happens to be Daisy's cousin, to invite her for tea, resulting in a reunion between the two.

While the two fall effortlessly back into each other's hearts, much has happened during the years that Daisy and Gatsby have been apart. As hard as he tries, Gatsby finds that he cannot recreate the life that they once shared. They struggle to find a way to be together, leaving in their wake a trail of death and destruction.

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The Great Gatsby Chapter 5 Summary

In chapter 5, an uncharacteristically nervous Gatsby recruits Nick to help him in staging a run-in with Daisy. Nick calls Daisy to invite her to tea and mentions that she is not to bring Tom. When the day finally arrives, the weather is gloomy and rain pours down. Gatsby arrives at the cottage ahead of time and waits with Nick, nearly backing out. When Daisy arrives, Nick gets up to answer the door and returns to find that Gatsby had gone. Moments later, there is a knock at the door, and Nick finds him outside in the rain, soaking wet, with a look of terror in his eyes. Conversation between Gatsby and Daisy starts out slow and clumsy, but eventually, they find themselves engrossed in each other's presence. Nick leaves them alone for a while and heads outside, using the cover of a large tree to avoid getting soaked by the rain. Eventually, the sun comes out and they take the opportunity to walk to Gatsby's mansion, Nick tagging along at the request of Gatsby. They spend the afternoon touring the house as Gatsby not so subtly flaunts his wealth for Daisy. For a brief while, they stand looking out over the water and Gatsby informs Daisy that if it weren't for the mist, they would be able to see the green light that lights the end of her dock. When they have run out of things to do, Gatsby requests that Klipspringer, one of the many partygoers who tends to linger long after the party has ended, plays the piano for them. Nick takes this opportunity to return to his cottage, leaving Daisy and Gatsby sitting on the couch staring longingly at one another.

The original cover art for the first edition of The Great Gatsby.

Original Great Gatsby cover art, first edition.

The Great Gatsby Chapter 5 Analysis

Chapter 5 is an impactful chapter in "The Great Gatsby." Everything that has happened up until this point has been in preparation for the moment that Gatsby and Daisy reunite, and finally, in chapter 5, they are reunited. Throughout this pivotal chapter, there are several key details that can be closely examined for a better understanding of both the characters and overall plot of the story.

Very early in the book, Gatsby shamelessly displays his wealth, which is a characteristic of the recently wealthy in the 1920s. He throws lavish parties and drives a Rolls-Royce, but all of the ostentation is for Daisy's sake. There are three specific scenes in chapter 5 that establish this. At the beginning of the chapter, Gatsby tells Nick that he has yet to swim in his pool this summer. Secondly, he carelessly pulls his expensive shirts out of the cabinet, unfolding them as they land in a pile on the table. He has enough money to buy nice things and replace them as necessary, but he doesn't seem to care that he has them in the first place. It would appear as though he enjoys the sight of Daisy appreciating his wealth more than he appreciates it himself. Lastly, he goes to much trouble to set up tea at Nick's house. While the state of Nick's cottage does very little to reflect on Gatsby, he still feels the need to set the perfect scene for his meeting with Daisy.

There are also a few of indications throughout the chapter that might suggest the possibility of a short-lived reunion between Daisy and Gatsby. Gatsby nearly knocking the broken clock off the mantle is representative of their desire to revisit the past together, even if it is only for a short time. On the day of the meeting, the weather is gloomy and rain falls nearly all day. In the middle of the afternoon, the sun comes out and they begin to take a tour of Gatsby's estate, only for the tour to be cut short by another bout of rain. The dark weather and interrupted outing can be seen as a foreshadowing of the quick decline of their rendezvous. Lastly, the green light scene also foreshadows the rapid expiration of Gatsby's expectations as he becomes aware of the error in his obsessive delusion.

Over the course of the chapter, Gatsby's character shifts in a way that changes the trajectory of the story. This chapter is a turning point and anticipates the new direction that the book is about to take.

How Does Gatsby Prepare for Daisy's Arrival?

Gatsby planned to orchestrate an afternoon tea at Nick's house knowing that when Daisy arrived, she would see his house. Obsessed with grandeur, Gatsby takes it upon himself to prepare Nick's cottage for Daisy's arrival. He hires a man to cut the grass and has an exorbitant number of flowers delivered and placed throughout the home. He arrives early to the cottage to make sure everything is set for Daisy's arrival, then sneaks out the back door to arrange his entrance.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are Gatsby's feelings in Chapter 5?

First, Gatsby is eager, as he waits expectantly for Nick to set the date for tea with Daisy. Then after nervously awaiting the date, when Daisy arrives and they reunite for the first time in nearly five years, both appear to be a bit flustered and embarrassed. After a bit of talking and reconnecting, both Daisy and Gatsby seem to experience feelings of affection and adoration. Lastly, after spending the afternoon with Daisy, Gatsby appears to struggle with disappointment and sadness, as he realizes Daisy is not all that he had dreamt her to be.

What is the message of The Great Gatsby?

While there are several themes and messages embedded within "The Great Gatsby," the overall message that F. Scott Fitzgerald is trying to introduce is the importance of living in the present. Gatsby has worked hard to obtain his wealth and status, and while he appears to be successful from all appearances, his obsession with recreating the past with Daisy prevents him from finding happiness.

What was Gatsby's dream in chapter 5?

Ever since Gatsby returned from the war to find that Daisy had moved on and married Tom in his absence, his dream has been to prove himself worthy and win her back. Finally, as Gatsby finds that Nick not only knows Daisy, but is her cousin, his dream seems attainable for the first time. He hopes that upon arriving at Nick's cottage and seeing him, Daisy will fall back into the place he has held for her for all those years. He takes her to see his home and all his lavish belongings in hopes of her leaving Tom for him and the life he could give her.

Why is Gatsby sad at the end of chapter 5?

At the end of chapter 5, we see a sadness in Gatsby's eyes. He spent nearly five years creating Daisy from memory, building her up in his mind so that she was nothing short of perfection. But now that she sits in front of him, holding his hand, he finds himself disappointed by the real Daisy who, by no fault of her own, falls short of his expectations.

What is the summary of Chapter 5 in The Great Gatsby?

In chapter 5, Gatsby has convinced Nick to invite Daisy to his cottage for tea, creating the opportunity for an arranged reunion between the two of them. He hires someone to cut Nick's grass and has a large amount of floral arrangements delivered to impress Daisy. After a clumsy initial interaction leaving Gatsby and Daisy both slightly embarrassed, Nick becomes uncomfortable and takes a walk, returning when he notices the rain has stopped. Gatsby wants to take a walk over to his mansion and although Nick tries to decline, Gatsby insists that he come along and they spend the rest of the afternoon allowing Gatsby to flaunt his wealth for Daisy, who is clearly impressed. At the end of the evening, Daisy and Gatsby sit together on the couch, captivated by one another's presence, so Nick takes this opportunity to return home.

What characters are in Chapter 5 of The Great Gatsby?

In Chapter 5 of the Great Gatsby, we see Nick, Gatsby and Daisy, along with a couple of Gatsby's hired hands, Ferdie, Daisy's chauffeur. Ewing Klipspringer, one of Gatsby's frequent party guests who tends to hang around long after the party ends, is playing the piano in this chapter as well.

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