why does gatsby call nick old sport
Jay Gatsby imitates the habit of the upper-classбof British young men who refer to friends as "old sport" so that it will seem that he hasбattended Oxford University. In his effort to make it look like he has reached a social level equal to that of Daisy Buchanan, Jay Gatz has recreated himself as Jay Gatsby, whoseбresumц includes having graduated from the prestigious British university at Oxford. In truth, Jay Gatz only attended Oxford a few months. This fact is revealed in Chapter Seven while Jordan, Daisy, Tom, and Gatsby are in the New York hotel. As they drink cocktails, Tom confronts Gatsby about his pretense of having graduated from Oxford: БBy the way, Mr. Gatsby, I understand youБre an Oxford man.
Б Uncomfortably, Gatsby replies, "Not exactly. " Tom then insinuates that Gatsby has completely fabricated his having attended Oxford. БI told you I went there,Б said Gatsby. Tom answers him, БI heard you, but IБd like to know when. Б Gatsby clarifies,
БIt was in nineteen-nineteen, I only stayed five months. ThatБs why I canБt really call myself an Oxford man. It was an opportunity they gave to some of the officers after the Armistice,Б he continued. БWe could go to any of the universities in England or France. Б When he hears this statement of Gatsby's, Nick narrates that he wantsб to get up and pat him on the back. "I had one of those renewals of complete faith in him that IБd experienced before" (Ch. 7).
Nick is relieved to witness Gatsby's honesty because he has been disturbed by Gatsby's pretense in other situations. You'll notice that Gatsby frequently uses the term "old sport" to address male characters, especially Nick. To understand the significance of this phrase, it is worth noting its meaning. "Old sport" is a friendly term of endearment used between gentlemen in the early twentieth century. On the one hand, then, Gatsby's use of the phrase "old sport" is used to show his affection towards characters like Nick. It shows that his friendly feelings are genuine. Looking deeper, however, we see that "old sport" is part of Gatsby's persona.
As it is associated with gentlemen who come from old money backgrounds, Gatsby is trying to project this image. He wants people to think he comes from this old moneyБalmost aristocraticБbackground because it will enhance his prestige and, more importantly, his authenticity. As a final note, it is worth thinking about how this relates to his quest to win back Daisy. If Gatsby can successfully fool people into believing he belongs to the world of old money (by speaking accordingly), then he will have a better chance at winning back Daisy because this is exactly the sort of man a woman of her background should be with.
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