This chapter begins with Nick's description of Gatsby's Saturday night parties: they have become legendary in New York for their opulence and hedonism. These parties are obscenely lavish. The guests marvel at Gatsby's Rolls-Royce, his enormous swimming pool, the live musicians he engages weekly, the sumptuous food that he provides for hundreds of people, and, perhaps most importantly, the unlimited liquor he generously supplies. Nick is eventually invited to one of these parties, but not by Gatsby himself; instead, Gatsby's chauffeur brings an invitation to Nick's door.
Gatsby's mansion is packed with revelers when Nick arrives. Very few of them seem to be invited guests, and even fewer have met Gatsby face to face. It is a very mixed crowd: East Eggers rub elbows with West Eggers, and people from New York high society meet those from "the wrong side of the tracks." Nick runs into Jordan Baker, who is even more casually bitter than usual because she has recently lost a golf tournament. All around them, people gossip about their mysterious host. They speculate that he once killed a man in cold blood or that he was a spy for Germany during World War I.
Jordan and Nick go looking for Gatsby in his mansion; instead, they find a grotesque little man in enormous eyeglasses (Nick calls him "Owl Eyes") skimming through the books in Gatsby's library. Both Owl Eyes and Jordan initially think that the books are false, designed only to give the appearance of a library; both are surprised to find that the books are real.
Outside, in the garden, Nick strikes up a conversation with a handsome, youthful man who looks familiar to him; it turns out that they served in the same division during the war. This man is the mysterious Gatsby. Gatsby has an affected English accent and a highly formal way of speaking. He stands aloof from his guests, watching the party rather than taking part in it. Gatsby leaves to take a phone call; later, he sends his butler to ask Jordan Baker if he may speak with her privately. When she finishes talking to Gatsby, she tells Nick that she has heard some "remarkable" news.
At about two in the morning, Nick decides to walk home; on the way, he sees Owl Eyes, who has crashed his car into a ditch. Owl Eyes loudly proclaims that he is finished with the whole business; it is not clear (either to Nick or to the reader) what, if anything, he means by this.
Nick informs the reader that he did not merely attend parties during the summer of 1922; he was also working in New York, a city which he simultaneously loves and hates. At Tom and Daisy's urging, he becomes romantically involved with Jordan Baker. Though he finds her essential dishonesty somewhat off-putting, he is attracted to her despite himself.
In this chapter, Jay Gatsby remains fundamentally a mystery. Few of the partygoers have met their host, and Gatsby stands aloof from his own celebration. He does not drink, he does not dance, he remains an observer. The man himself stands in stark contrast to the sinister gossip Nick has heard about him. Gatsby is young and handsome, with a beautiful smile that seems to radiate hope and optimism. Nick falls instantly in love with Gatsby's smile, remarking that it has "a quality of eternal reassurance in it." Gatsby's innate hopefulness is contagious.
Though Nick implies throughout the novel that wealth and ostentation tend to mask immorality and decay, Gatsby's wealth seems to serve another purpose, one that is not yet clear. The reader already knows that not everything about Gatsby is mere display: his books are real, for example, and his smile is real. However, he has a queer false English accent that is obviously false. Gatsby, at this point in the novel, remains an enigma, a creature of contradictions.
Fitzgerald gives great attention to the details of contemporary society: Gatsby's party is both a description and parody of Jazz Age decadence. It exemplifies the spirit of conspicuous consumption, and is a queer mix of the lewd and the respectable. Though catered to by butlers and serenaded by professionally trained singers, the guests are drunk, crude, and boisterous. The orchestra plays a work by Tostoff called The Jazz History of the World; though it had had a fantastic reception at Carnegie Hall, the piece is the antithesis of classical respectability.
At the time of The Great Gatsby's publication, cars were still novelty items; in the novel, they are imbued with a sense of luxurious danger. A car accident disturbs the end of the party, when a drunken man crashes his car into a ditch. Nick admonishes Jordan for being an unspeakably awful driver, and her near-accident serves as a metaphor for the behavior of her contemporaries. Jordan is a careless driver because she considers caution the responsibility of others; she feels that the onus is on them to keep out of her way.
The chapter also reinforces Nick's position an objective and reliable narrator: it ends with his claim that he is one of the few honest people he has ever known. Jordan Baker, by contrast, is compulsively dishonest; the fact that she cheated to win her first golf tournament is entirely unsurprising. She assumes that everyone else is as dishonest as she: she automatically concludes that Gatsby's books, like the better part of her own personality, exist merely for the sake of appearance.
AMMAN — Like many large cities and capitals, Amman has a heavy traffic problem and the gridlock on the city’s streets is getting worse, according to transportation experts, who offered some ideas to ease the congestions.
Amman’s traffic troubles can be attributed to two key factors, according to Ayman Smadi, executive director of the transport and traffic department at the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM): uncontrolled growth and a dependence on private vehicles.
According to Smadi, the population of Amman has nearly doubled every decade over the last 30 years. Even with proper planning, that kind of rapid growth is too difficult for infrastructure to keep up with.
While Amman is not unique compared to other large cities in facing huge growth, it is unique in its attitude to navigating it.
“It has become almost a social stigma to use public transport,” Smadi said. “No city with such a big population relies so exclusively on cars like Amman.”
Residents’ dependence on private cars is “a result of decades of investments in road infrastructure and a lack of growth in public transport”, according to Hazem Zureiqat, transportation consultant at Engicon, a consulting engineering firm in Amman.
Public transport, typically seen as a necessity for growing cities worldwide and a solution to congested roads, has remained disjointed in Amman, which was planned on an “ad hoc basis” and lacks significant government subsidies, Zureiqat said.
But solutions are in the works, and plans are being analysed for the long-term as the city’s population continues to grow.
Bus Rapid Transit
The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, expected to launch in 2018, is estimated to cost JD180 million, broken down into two parts: JD120 million for the infrastructure and JD60 million for operational costs, GAM officials have stated.
The plan involves operating modern buses capable of carrying approximately 120 passengers on their own designated lanes along Amman’s busiest streets.
It is expected to help reduce traffic by providing plenty of things current bus systems in the city lack, like decent vehicles, smart payment, air conditioning and a commitment to regular operating schedules.
“The key parameter in the end is travel time,” Smadi said, in regards to whether or not citizens would leave their private cars to use the new buses.
“If you drive your car for 45 minutes in traffic to get to work, and it takes 15 minutes with an alternative, people will eventually switch. But we haven’t provided that alternative yet.”
The infrastructure costs will go towards painting roads, creating bus stations, and building bus terminals. The operational side will fund the new vehicles themselves, along with the information systems required for such a programme.
“[BRT] will showcase what it means to have modern, reliable public transport in Amman and will hopefully set the stage for further improvements and projects,” Zureiqat said.
A rail system for long-term solutions
As many large cities like London and New York have realised, a longer-term solution is eventually necessary to transport large populations. That solution is often a light rail or metro system, typically underground.
“It’s a natural progression after something like BRT,” Smadi said. “As the population continues to grow, it will be a necessity for Amman to have a rail system.”
But would an underground rail system be feasible in Jordan’s capital?
Early GAM analysis for such a project estimates it would cost JD100 million per kilometre, which includes both tunnelling underground and laying down the actual rails.
A tram would be cheaper, according to Smadi, but would face more logistical problems with sloping roads and would not provide as high a capacity.
The key for Amman, before preparing any sort of infrastructure, is balancing demand with capacity and cost for citizens, Smadi said.
A high level of subsidy is needed to bring a light rail or metro to the city, but commercial development around such projects is attractive for the private sector, so the benefits go beyond simply reducing traffic.
“Further work needs to be done to assess such a project’s feasibility,” according to Zureiqat. “What I am certain about is that Amman needs a high-capacity, rapid transit system — be it a metro or light rail, underground or at street level — to serve future demand. The current system and mode of operation are not sustainable.”
Managing traffic in the meantime
While public transportation projects like BRT and a rail system are being developed, there are still ways to reduce traffic jams and dangerous driving.
“The key to traffic safety is human behaviour,” Smadi said. “We have congestion, but it’s not different from other big cities.”
According to Smadi, one solution that can be worked on today is an education system for young people to teach them the essentials of safe driving, like reducing distractions and not speeding.
For Zureiqat, there is no lack of short-term solutions that can be developed as Amman works towards better public transportation.
“With the right measures and technologies and with little investment, we can manage our road network better and make it more efficient,” he said. “We could add traffic lights at certain locations to regulate the flow of cars, we could provide better real-time information about congestion to drivers, and we could better enforce traffic laws to have less disruption to flow and fewer accidents.”