At the end of Chapter 2 of The Great Gatsby, Nick leaves the party with Mr McKee. While they are in the elevator, Mr McKee invites him to come to lunch some day, and Nick agrees.

And then, after a mysterious "..." in the next paragraph, he is suddenly standing over a half-naked Mr McKee who is showing him his portfolio.

Mr. McKee turned and continued on out the door. Taking my hat from the chandelier, I followed.

"Come to lunch some day," he suggested, as we groaned down in the elevator.



"Keep your hands off the lever," snapped the elevator boy.

"I beg your pardon," said Mr. McKee with dignity, "I didn't know I was touching it."

"All right," I agreed, "I'll be glad to."

. . . I was standing beside his bed and he was sitting up between the sheets, clad in his underwear, with a great portfolio in his hands.

"Beauty and the Beast . . . Loneliness . . . Old Grocery Horse . . . Brook'n Bridge . . . ."

Then I was lying half asleep in the cold lower level of the Pennsylvania Station, staring at the morning TRIBUNE, and waiting for the four o'clock train.

What happened here? Did he invite him to come inside right away, right after inviting him to "come to lunch some day"? Why is this part suddenly glossed over in the narration?

This whole ending feels very strange to me. It is not clear to me if Nick is dreaming this, or imagining this, or what.

I still haven't finished the book so I'd appreciate an answer without spoilers. Moreover, I'm looking for an explanation as to what happened, inside the book. Not for an analysis of this ending. For instance, the fact that, say, the names of the pictures shown somehow represent the evening that Nick's been through, is irrelevant to me.


1 Answer 1


This is apparently the only place that Fitzgerald uses ellipses in The Great Gatsby if this source is accurate.

That author's reading that Nick had a sexual encounter with Mr McKee is not unique. The reading of this as being a homosexual encounter dates back at least to 1977 according to this article in The Millions but that same article points out that this reading of the scene was (probably) unknown before 1977, although the author's argument that it makes no sense for Fitzgerald to put a homosexual encounter, even one taking place in the ellipses, unless Fitzgerald himself were gay seems a bit of a stretch, although he does acknowledge that it's very likely that even if Fitzgerald didn't intend for Nick Carraway to be gay, it's also very likely that Mr McKee himself was intended to be so.

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    "This reading of the scene was (probably) unknown before 1977" — I am absolutely sure that many gay readers were aware of it, even if members of the literary criticism community were too oblivious to notice it or too timid to put it into print. Gay people are not stupid, and were used to deciphering coded signals, like the business with the elevator lever.
    – Peter Shor
    Nov 22, 2022 at 15:26

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