Chapter 3-6: The Wasted
Aim: In this 30-minute lesson, you will go over the part 3-6 of the book. Go over comprehension questions after each paragraph, and practice using new expressions.
After saying hello, read the following part of the book out loud with the tutor.
A man in a long duster had dismounted from the wreck and now stood in the middle of the road, looking from the car to the tire and from the tire to the observers in a pleasant, puzzled way.
“See!” he explained. “It went in the ditch.” The fact was infinitely astonishing to him–and I recognized first the unusual quality of wonder and then the man–it was the late patron of Gatsby’s library.
Who did Nick see in the middle of the road?
He shrugged his shoulders.
“I know nothing whatever about mechanics,” he said decisively.
“But how did it happen? Did you run into the wall?”
“Don’t ask me,” said Owl Eyes, washing his hands of the whole matter.
“I know very little about driving–next to nothing. It happened, and that’s all I know.”
“Well, if you’re a poor driver you oughtn’t to try driving at night.”
“But I wasn’t even trying,” he explained indignantly, “I wasn’t even trying.”
An awed hush fell upon the bystanders.
“Do you want to commit suicide?”
“You’re lucky it was just a wheel! A bad driver and not even TRYing!”
“You don’t understand,” explained the criminal. “I wasn’t driving. There’s another man in the car.”
What was Owl Eyes doing with his car?
The shock that followed this declaration found voice in a sustained “Ah-h-h!” as the door of the coupe swung slowly open. The crowd–it was now a crowd–stepped back involuntarily and when the door had opened wide there was a ghostly pause. Then, very gradually, part by part, a pale dangling individual stepped out of the wreck, pawing tentatively at the ground with a large uncertain dancing shoe. Blinded by the glare of the headlights and confused by the incessant groaning of the horns the apparition stood swaying for a moment before he perceived the man in the duster.
“Wha’s matter?” he inquired calmly. “Did we run outa gas?”
Half a dozen fingers pointed at the amputated wheel–he stared at it for a moment and then looked upward as though he suspected that it had dropped from the sky.
“It came off,” some one explained.
“At first I din’ notice we’d stopped.”
A pause. Then, taking a long breath and straightening his shoulders he remarked in a determined voice:
“Wonder’ff tell me where there’s a gas’line station?”
At least a dozen men, some of them little better off than he was, explained to him that wheel and car were no longer joined by any physical bond.
“Back out,” he suggested after a moment. “Put her in reverse.”
“But the WHEEL’S off!”
“No harm in trying,” he said.
The caterwauling horns had reached a crescendo and I turned away and cut across the lawn toward home. I glanced back once. A wafer of a moon was shining over Gatsby’s house, making the night fine as before and surviving the laughter and the sound of his still glowing garden. A sudden emptiness seemed to flow now from the windows and the great doors, endowing with complete isolation the figure of the host who stood on the porch, his hand up in a formal gesture of farewell.
How did the night end? How does Nick feel about the end of the party?
Reading over what I have written so far I see I have given the impression that the events of three nights several weeks apart were all that absorbed me. On the contrary they were merely casual events in a crowded summer and, until much later, they absorbed me infinitely less than my personal affairs.
Most of the time I worked. In the early morning the sun threw my shadow westward as I hurried down the white chasms of lower New York to the Probity Trust. I knew the other clerks and young bond-salesmen by their first names and lunched with them in dark crowded restaurants on little pig sausages and mashed potatoes and coffee. I even had a short affair with a girl who lived in Jersey City and worked in the accounting department, but her brother began throwing mean looks in my direction so when she went on her vacation in July I let it blow quietly away.
I took dinner usually at the Yale Club–for some reason it was the gloomiest event of my day–and then I went upstairs to the library and studied investments and securities for a conscientious hour. There were generally a few rioters around but they never came into the library so it was a good place to work. After that, if the night was mellow I strolled down Madison Avenue past the old Murray Hill Hotel and over Thirty-third Street to the Pennsylvania Station.
- Do people drink a lot in your country? What do you feel when you see the wasted on the streets?
- Have you ever been (or felt like you’ve been) absorbed by a specific event? What aspect of it captivated your mind? Share your experience with your Cambly tutor!
Do you understand the following words and expressions? Practice using the new words or expressions with the Cambly tutor.
The company (that sells bonds) Nick works at
(Location) Jersey City is the seat of Hudson County, New Jersey. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population of Jersey City was 247,597, making it the second-most populous city in New Jersey, after Newark. Part of the New York metropolitan area, Jersey City lies across from Lower Manhattan between the Hudson River and Upper New York Bay and the Hackensack River and Newark Bay. A port of entry, with 11 miles of waterfront and significant rail connections, Jersey City is an important transportation terminus and distribution and manufacturing center for the Port of New York and New Jersey. Service industries have played a prominent role in the redevelopment of its waterfront and the creation of one of the nation’s largest downtown office markets. After a peak population of 316,715 measured in the 1930 Census, the city’s population saw a half-century long decline to a low of 223,532 in the 1980 Census, but since then the city’s population has grown, with the 2010 population reflecting an increase of 7,542 from the 240,055 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 11,518 from the 228,537 counted in the 1990 Census.
Murray Hill Hotel
The original station was considered a masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style, but was demolished in 1963. It was moved underground, and the Pennsylvania Plaza complex, including the fourth and current Madison Square Garden, was completed in 1968.