"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chapters 4–5

Nick Carraway rents a summer house in Long Island where he befriends his mysterious neighbor Jay Gatsby, a self-made millionaire who hides behind an extravagant and decadent lifestyle.

Here are links to all our word lists for the novel: Chapter 1, Chapters 2–3, Chapters 4–5, Chapters 6–7, Chapters 8–9

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. repute
    look on as or consider
    In addition to all these I can remember that Faustina O'Brien came
    there at least once...and Miss Claudia Hip with a man reputed to be her
    chauffeur, and a prince of something whom we called Duke and whose name, if I ever knew it, I have forgotten.
  2. resourceful
    adroit or imaginative
    He was balancing himself on the dashboard of his car with that resourcefulness of movement that is so peculiarly American—that comes, I suppose, with the absence of lifting work or rigid sitting in youth and, even more, with the formless grace of our nervous, sporadic games.
  3. punctilious
    marked by precise accordance with details
    This quality was continually breaking through his punctilious manner in the shape of restlessness.
  4. proprietor
    someone who owns a business
    So my first impression, that he was a person of some undefined consequence, had gradually faded and he had become simply the proprietor of an elaborate roadhouse next door.
  5. retribution
    a justly deserved penalty
    His right hand suddenly ordered divine retribution to stand by.
  6. threadbare
    repeated too often; overfamiliar through overuse
    The very phrases were worn so threadbare that they evoked no image except that of a turbaned "character" leaking sawdust at every pore as he pursued a tiger through the Bois de Boulogne.
  7. valor
    courage when facing danger
    "Major Jay Gatsby", I read, "For Valour Extraordinary".
  8. gilt
    having the deep slightly brownish color of gold
    We passed Port Roosevelt, where there was a glimpse of red-belted ocean-going ships, and sped along a cobbled slum lined with the dark, undeserted saloons of the faded gilt nineteen-hundreds.
  9. obscure
    difficult to find
    In a well-fanned Forty-second Street cellar I met Gatsby for lunch. Blinking away the brightness of the street outside my eyes picked him out obscurely in the anteroom, talking to another man.
  10. denizen
    a person who inhabits a particular place
    "This is one of his sentimental days. He's quite a character around New York—a denizen of Broadway."
  11. engrossed
    giving or marked by complete attention to
    They were so engrossed in each other that she didn't see me until I was five feet away.
  12. aspire
    have an ambitious plan or a lofty goal
    Then it had not been merely the stars to which he had aspired on that June night.
  13. dispense
    administer or bestow, as in small portions
    He had waited five years and bought a mansion where he dispensed starlight to casual moths so that he could "come over" some afternoon to a stranger's garden.
  14. heady
    extremely exciting as if by alcohol or a narcotic
    A phrase began to beat in my ears with a sort of heady excitement: "There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired."
  15. rout
    a disorderly crowd of people
    At first I thought it was another party, a wild rout that had resolved itself into "hide-and-go-seek" or "sardines-in-the-box" with all the house thrown open to the game.
  16. suppressed
    held in check with difficulty
    He waited, looking at me with suppressed eagerness.
  17. tactless
    revealing lack of perceptiveness or judgment or finesse
    But, because the offer was obviously and tactlessly for a service to be rendered, I had no choice except to cut him off there.
  18. defunct
    no longer in force or use; inactive
    His head leaned back so far that it rested against the face of a defunct mantelpiece clock and from this position his distraught eyes stared down at Daisy who was sitting frightened but graceful on the edge of a stiff chair.
  19. abortive
    failing to accomplish an intended result
    His eyes glanced momentarily at me and his lips parted with an abortive attempt at a laugh.
  20. conscientious
    characterized by extreme care and great effort
    Gatsby got himself into a shadow and while Daisy and I talked looked conscientiously from one to the other of us with tense unhappy eyes.
  21. incredulous
    not disposed or willing to believe; unbelieving
    "She's embarrassed?" he repeated incredulously.
  22. serf
    a person bound to the land and owned by the feudal lord
    Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry.
  23. vestige
    an indication that something has been present
    They were sitting at either end of the couch looking at each other as if some question had been asked or was in the air, and every vestige of embarrassment was gone.
  24. confound
    be confusing or perplexing to
    But there was a change in Gatsby that was simply confounding.
  25. exultation
    a feeling of extreme joy
    He literally glowed; without a word or a gesture of exultation a new well-being radiated from him and filled the little room.
  26. defiantly
    in a rebellious manner
    There was a small picture of Gatsby, also in yachting costume, on the bureau—Gatsby with his head thrown back defiantly—taken apparently when he was about eighteen.
  27. pompadour
    a hair style in which the hair is swept up from the forehead
    "The pompadour! You never told me you had a pompadour—or a yacht."
  28. nebulous
    lacking definite form or limits
    He was now decently clothed in a "sport shirt" open at the neck, sneakers and duck trousers of a nebulous hue.
  29. vitality
    an energetic style
    There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams—not through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion.
  30. fluctuating
    having unpredictable ups and downs
    I think that voice held him most with its fluctuating, feverish warmth because it couldn't be over-dreamed—that voice was a deathless song.
    Daisy's "fluctuating" voice mirrors her fickle affections, in contrast to Gatsby's single-minded devotion.

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