Chapter 4-3: The Speak Easy
Aim: In this 30-minute lesson, you will go over the part 4-3 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.
With fenders spread like wings we scattered light through half Astoria–only half, for as we twisted among the pillars of the elevated I heard the familiar “jug–jug–SPAT!” of a motor cycle, and a frantic policeman rode alongside.
“All right, old sport,” called Gatsby. We slowed down. Taking a white card from his wallet he waved it before the man’s eyes.
“Right you are,” agreed the policeman, tipping his cap. “Know you next time, Mr. Gatsby. Excuse ME!”
Why did Gatsby show the ‘white card’ to the policeman? What does it represent?
“What was that?” I inquired.¬† “The picture of Oxford?”
“I was able to do the commissioner a favor once, and he sends me a Christmas card every year.”
Over the great bridge, with the sunlight through the girders making a constant flicker upon the moving cars, with the city rising up across the river in white heaps and sugar lumps all built with a wish out of non-olfactory money. The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.
A dead man passed us in a hearse heaped with blooms, followed by two carriages with drawn blinds and by more cheerful carriages for friends. The friends looked out at us with the tragic eyes and short upper lips of south-eastern Europe, and I was glad that the sight of Gatsby’s splendid car was included in their somber holiday. As we crossed Blackwell’s Island a limousine passed us, driven by a white chauffeur, in which sat three modish Negroes, two bucks and a girl. I laughed aloud as the yolks of their eyeballs rolled toward us in haughty rivalry.
“Anything can happen now that we’ve slid over this bridge,” I thought; “anything at all. . . .”
Even Gatsby could happen, without any particular wonder.
What did Nick and Gatsby see as they crossed Blackwell;s Island?
Roaring noon. 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.
“Mr. Carraway this is my friend Mr. Wolfshiem.”
A small, flat-nosed Jew raised his large head and regarded me with two fine growths of hair which luxuriated in either nostril. After a moment I discovered his tiny eyes in the half darkness.
What does ‘Forty-second Street cellar’ mean?
“–so I took one look at him–” said Mr. Wolfshiem, shaking my hand earnestly, “–and what do you think I did?”
“What?” I inquired politely.
But evidently he was not addressing me for he dropped my hand and covered Gatsby with his expressive nose.
“I handed the money to Katspaugh and I sid, ‘All right, Katspaugh, don’t pay him a penny till he shuts his mouth.’ He shut it then and there.”
Gatsby took an arm of each of us and moved forward into the restaurant whereupon Mr. Wolfshiem swallowed a new sentence he was starting and lapsed into a somnambulatory abstraction.
Who is Mr. Wolfshiem? How does Nick feel about him?
“Highballs?” asked the head waiter.
“This is a nice restaurant here,” said Mr. Wolfshiem looking at the Presbyterian nymphs on the ceiling. “But I like across the street better!”
“Yes, highballs,” agreed Gatsby, and then to Mr. Wolfshiem: “It’s too hot over there.”
“Hot and small–yes,” said Mr. Wolfshiem, “but full of memories.”
“What place is that?” I asked.
“The old Metropole.
“The old Metropole,” brooded Mr. Wolfshiem gloomily. “Filled with faces dead and gone. Filled with friends gone now forever. I can’t forget so long as I live the night they shot Rosy Rosenthal there. It was six of us at the table and Rosy had eat and drunk a lot all evening. When it was almost morning the waiter came up to him with a funny look and says somebody wants to speak to him outside. ‘All right,’ says Rosy and begins to get up and I pulled him down in his chair.
“‘Let the bastards come in here if they want you, Rosy, but don’t you, so help me, move outside this room.’
“It was four o’clock in the morning then, and if we’d of raised the blinds we’d of seen daylight.”
“Did he go?” I asked innocently.
“Sure he went,”–Mr. Wolfshiem’s nose flashed at me indignantly–“He turned around in the door and says, ‘Don’t let that waiter take away my coffee!’ Then he went out on the sidewalk and they shot him three times in his full belly and drove away.”
“Four of them were electrocuted,” I said, remembering.
“Five with Becker.” His nostrils turned to me in an interested way.
Who is Rosy Rosenthal?
- What is Speak Easy? Describe the ‘restaurant’ that the group just entered.
- Wolfshiem is a Jew. Given Nick’s description of Mr. Wolfshiem, do you think Nick had any prejudice against Jewish people?
- Given the information in this passage, what have we learned more about Gatsby? Would you stay friends with Gatsby? Share your thoughts with your Cambly tutor!
Do you understand the following words and expressions? Practice using the new words or expressions with the Cambly tutor.
The Waldorf Astoria New York is a luxury hotel in New York City. It has been housed in two historic landmark buildings in New York. The first, designed by architect Henry J. Hardenbergh, was on the Fifth Avenue site of the Empire State Building. The present building, at 301 Park Avenue in Manhattan, is a 47-story 190.5 m Art Deco landmark designed by architects Schultze and Weaver and dating from 1931.
Rosy Rosenthal was a smalltime gambler in Manhattan who was killed just outside the Metropole Hotel in July of 1912. Gatsby, Nick, and Wolfshiem go on to comment about the proceedings of the Becker-Rosenthal murder case in the following lines. The reader is able to get the general idea of the case from this conversation, but I found a very good blog about this event, and the author even ties it in with the context of the Great Gatsby.