I am reading The Great Gatsby, and would like to know what "if we had room for him" means in the following sentences:

"Biloxi?" He concentrated with an effort. "I didn't know him. He was a friend of Daisy's."
"He was not," she denied. "I'd never seen him before. He came down in the private car."
"Well, he said he knew you. He said he was raised in Louisville. Asa Bird brought him around at the last minute and asked if we had room for him."
Jordan smiled.
"He was probably bumming his way home. He told me he was president of your class at Yale."

In this part, Daisy, her husband Tom, her lover Gatsby, her relative Nick, and her friend Jordan engaged a suite parlor in the Plaza Hotel to have some mint julep on this stifling day. As Mendelssohn's Wedding March was heard from the ballroom below, Daisy and Tom recalled that their wedding day was also very hot and that someone named Biloxi even fainted. Biloxi was carried into Jordan's house because it was very close to church, and stayed there for three weeks.

Here, I could not grasp what "if we had room for him" means here. Did Asa Bird—presumably their friend—bring Biloxi, who wasn't their friend and thus was uninvited, at the last minute of their wedding and asked if they had some vacant seat for him? Or did Asa Bird bring the fainted Biloxi to them and asked some space to lay him down? Or was Asa Bird finding a room for him to stay for a while?

1 Answer 1


There is a description of the Fay–Buchanan marriage in chapter 4:

In June [1919] she [Daisy Fay] married Tom Buchanan of Chicago with more pomp and circumstance than Louisville ever knew before. He came down with a hundred people in four private cars and hired a whole floor of the Muhlbach Hotel, and the day before the wedding he gave her a string of pearls valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

The “private cars” are privately hired rail passenger cars, and the “Muhlbach Hotel” is a light disguise for the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky.

‘Biloxi’ was a gatecrasher at the wedding. He told Tom that he was a childhood friend of Daisy’s:

“Well, he said he knew you. He said he was raised in Louisville.”

and he told Daisy that he was at university with Tom:

“He told me he was president of your class at Yale.”

but both of these claims were lies. Then at the wedding ‘Biloxi’ faints (or pretends to faint) and so gets carried to the Bakers’ house, where he stays until he is kicked out. It seems that ‘Biloxi’ is an accomplished freeloader. He may have known Asa Bird, but more likely he lied his way into her acquaintance via the supposed connection to Daisy, and then parlayed this into an invitation to the wedding.

So when ‘Biloxi’ “asked if we had room for him” it means that he asked Tom if there was room for him at the wedding party. Presumably this would have included a room at the Muhlbach Hotel for the duration.

The anecdote about ‘Biloxi’ reminds the reader (and the characters) of Gatsby, whose claims about his background are also suspected of being false. In particular, Tom launches straight into a disparagement of Gatsby’s claim to have been at Oxford University:

“By the way, Mr. Gatsby, I understand you’re an Oxford man.”

“Not exactly.”

“Oh, yes, I understand you went to Oxford.”

“Yes — I went there.”

A pause. Then Tom’s voice, incredulous and insulting: “You must have gone there about the time Biloxi went to New Haven.”

Yale University, where ‘Biloxi’ claimed to have been president of Tom’s class, is in New Haven, Connecticut.

  • Thank you very much for the clear and detailed explanation, Gareth Rees! I would like to thank you especially for your explanation regarding the private cars, for I had never realized that the four private cars indicated the privately hired train carriages. So I just wanted to make sure: when Biloxi was described as having come down "in the private car" in the Chapter 7, ("He was not," she denied. "I'd never seen him before. He came down in the private car.") does it mean that he used the privately hired carriage, too? (ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/f/fitzgerald/f_scott/gatsby/…) Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 14:05
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    Yes, Biloxi blagged his way onto the private rail carriages. It would have been easy to mingle with the crowd of wedding guests at Union Depot in Chicago and thus slip onto the train. Once on the train everyone would assume Biloxi was another wedding guest, and since the guests attending from Chicago were friends and family of Tom then no-one was in a position to challenge his claim to have known Daisy in Louisville. Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 14:20

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