Chapter 4-4: Mr. Wolfshiem
Aim: In this 30-minute lesson, you will go over the part 4-4 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.
“I understand you’re looking for a business gonnegtion.”
The juxtaposition of these two remarks was startling. Gatsby answered for me:
“Oh, no,” he exclaimed, “this isn’t the man!”
“No?” Mr. Wolfshiem seemed disappointed.
“This is just a friend. I told you we’d talk about that some other time.”
“I beg your pardon,” said Mr. Wolfshiem, “I had a wrong man.”
A succulent hash arrived, and Mr. Wolfshiem, forgetting the more sentimental atmosphere of the old Metropole, began to eat with ferocious delicacy. His eyes, meanwhile, roved very slowly all around the room–he completed the arc by turning to inspect the people directly behind. I think that, except for my presence, he would have taken one short glance beneath our own table.
What do you think Mr. Wolfshiem does for living? How does it relate to Gatsby’s enormous wealth?
“Look here, old sport,” said Gatsby, leaning toward me, “I’m afraid I made you a little angry this morning in the car.”
There was the smile again, but this time I held out against it.
“I don’t like mysteries,” I answered. “And I don’t understand why you won’t come out frankly and tell me what you want. Why has it all got to come through Miss Baker?”
“Oh, it’s nothing underhand,” he assured me. “Miss Baker’s a great sportswoman, you know, and she’d never do anything that wasn’t all right.”
Why is Nick upset with Gatsby?
Suddenly he looked at his watch, jumped up and hurried from the room leaving me with Mr. Wolfshiem at the table.
“He has to telephone,” said Mr. Wolfshiem, following him with his eyes.
“Fine fellow, isn’t he? Handsome to look at and a perfect gentleman.”
“He’s an Oggsford man.”
“He went to Oggsford College in England. You know Oggsford College?”
“I’ve heard of it.”
“It’s one of the most famous colleges in the world.”
“Have you known Gatsby for a long time?” I inquired.
“Several years,” he answered in a gratified way. “I made the pleasure of his acquaintance just after the war. But I knew I had discovered a man of fine breeding after I talked with him an hour. I said to myself: ‘There’s the kind of man you’d like to take home and introduce to your mother and sister.’
How does Mr. Wolfshiem know Gatsby?
He paused. “I see you’re looking at my cuff buttons.”
I hadn’t been looking at them, but I did now. They were composed of oddly familiar pieces of ivory. “Finest specimens of human molars,” he informed me.
“Well!” I inspected them. “That’s a very interesting idea.”
“Yeah.” He flipped his sleeves up under his coat. “Yeah, Gatsby’s very careful about women. He would never so much as look at a friend’s wife.”
What’s odd about Mr. Wolfshiem’s cuff buttons?
When the subject of this instinctive trust returned to the table and sat down Mr. Wolfshiem drank his coffee with a jerk and got to his feet.
“I have enjoyed my lunch,” he said, “and I’m going to run off from you two young men before I outstay my welcome.”
“Don’t hurry, Meyer,” said Gatsby, without enthusiasm. Mr. Wolfshiem raised his hand in a sort of benediction.
“You’re very polite but I belong to another generation,” he announced solemnly. “You sit here and discuss your sports and your young ladies and your—-” He supplied an imaginary noun with another wave of his hand–“As for me, I am fifty years old, and I won’t impose myself on you any longer.” As he shook hands and turned away his tragic nose was trembling. I wondered if I had said anything to offend him.
“He becomes very sentimental sometimes,” explained Gatsby. “This is one of his sentimental days. He’s quite a character around New York–a denizen of Broadway.”
“Who is he anyhow–an actor?”
“Meyer Wolfshiem? No, he’s a gambler.” Gatsby hesitated, then added coolly: “He’s the man who fixed the World’s Series back in 1919.”
“Fixed the World’s Series?” I repeated.
The idea staggered me. I remembered of course that the World’s Series had been fixed in 1919 but if I had thought of it at all I would have thought of it as a thing that merely HAPPENED, the end of some inevitable chain. It never occurred to me that one man could start to play with the faith of fifty million people–with the single-mindedness of a burglar blowing a safe.
“How did he happen to do that?” I asked after a minute.
“He just saw the opportunity.”
“Why isn’t he in jail?”
“They can’t get him, old sport. He’s a smart man.”
What happened during the World Series in 1919? What can you conclude about Gatsby’s background given the information?
- “As the saying goes that a man is known by the company h keeps. Good company can make a man whereas bad company can ruin him.” Do you agree or disagree with this quote? Why or why not?
- Based on Nick’s observation of Gatsby’s friend, what can you guess about Gatsby’s background?
- If you were Nick, would you have stayed close friends with Gatsby? Why or why not? 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 1919 World Series matched the American League champion Chicago White Sox against the National League champion Cincinnati Reds. Although most World Series have been of the best-of-seven format, the 1919 World Series was a best-of-nine series (along with 1903, 1920, and 1921). Baseball decided to try the best-of-nine format partly to increase popularity of the sport and partly to generate more revenue.
The events of the series are often associated with the Black Sox Scandal, when several members of the Chicago franchise conspired with gamblers to throw (i.e., intentionally lose) the World Series games. The 1919 World Series was the last World Series to take place without a Commissioner of Baseball in place. In 1920, the various franchise owners installed Kenesaw Mountain Landis as the first “Commissioner of Baseball.” In August 1921, eight players from the White Sox were banned from organized baseball for fixing the series (or having knowledge about the fix).