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Jordan Baker Appreciation Society

I have always liked the character of Jordan Baker. I liked her in the novel when I read it, I liked her in the Robert Redford version, and I liked her in the more recent Gatsby adaptation. She is, to me, one of the few "winners" in this allegory of a story. She lives an interesting life, goes to a lot of interesting parties, knows a lot of interesting people, and lives to party again when everyone else makes a mess of their lives. I like Jordan because she doesn't take this whole lifestyle very seriously, and knows more tact and self-awareness than a lot of other characters in Nick's world. I would totally have her at my fictional dinner party for literary characters. There is so much she could tell you and so many other people she could bring. An interesting essay by Maggie Gordon Froehlich delves into the interpretation of Jordan as a successfully "passing" queer woman, and I think Froehlich's examples makes a very good case. It also brings a lot of depth to her actions that many see as shallow and false.

Critics have regarded Jordan Baker as one of the characters least deserving of scholarly attention; for those who have analyzed the novel's handful of explicit references of African Americans and racialist theories of the day, she is treated as utterly irrelevant to the novel's overt discussion of race. I would like to suggest that this overt discussion of race is being read onto the novel's implicit argument about sexuality, and that the figure of Jordan Baker embodies these intersections and illuminates this code.Recognizing the intentionality behind Jordan's invisibility and indistinguishability from other women and understanding it as a self-conscious pose—a form of passing—reveals some of what I would like to argue are the novel's heretofore undiscovered core concerns: intersections between racial and gender transgression, queer politics and practices of the closet,and the ways patriarchal capitalism constructs gender and sexuality. The character of Jordan Baker then, whose affectation of "whiteness" Fitzgerald underscores throughout the novel, embodies the connotation of simultaneously developing discourses on race, sex, and gender. Ironically, the fact that her queerness is most often overlooked proves that her strategies for"passing" in the novel are successful.


This interpretation opens up a whole new layer to her character and her role in the story. It also brings up a lot of questions about society and it's mingling with sexuality and class. I'm not at an academic state to explore these new questions, but anyone able and willing to overanalyzing The Great Gatsby sure do have a lead with this.

Also, past the personality of Jordan that I admire, I confess that I have more shallow reasons for liking Jordan the most. In the movie adaptations, she remains the most stylish and fiercest-looking character in the story. The Baz Luhrmann adaptation's Jordan embodied everything I find beautiful about the 20's aesthetic.Elizabeth Debicki was fantastic in what she was given for her role, and wore every dress like she was made for that era.

I admit that it's been a while since I've read The Great Gatsby, but I can always read it again to find just why Jordan is an unredeemable character or one without depth. The movies haven't done a good job of doing it, and I just can't help but appreciate Jordan for being able to make it through the story that had just unfolded.

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