Friend or Foe?
Contemptuous, jaunty, graceful. These are all used to describe Jordan Baker throughout the novel The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. But who is Jordan Baker? A professional golfer, a best friend? She was around since the beginning of the story and was there until the end, but not one good thing came from her.
She cheats when she plays golf, puts others down, and says one thing then does another. It’s because of Jordan Baker that Gatsby met Nick, and then Gatsby convinced Jordan to have Nick introduce Daisy to Gatsby, and it all went downhill from there. She tries to play it off like she’s an angel in white, but that’s far from the truth. Jordan Baker is a dishonest woman with a sense of power who does more harm than good throughout the book. Being a professional athlete, it should be expected that you play fair. But Jordan Baker expects to win.
To her winning was more important than the game itself, winning lead to fame and fortune. As Charles Thomas Samuel said, “Jordan Baker’s attempts at sporting fame lead her to cheating” (Samuel, 1). Her obsession for fame and fortune became so extreme she ended up cheating on her first golf tournament. And after being found out she lied to the world to try and save her reputation, but after that incident no one ever looked at her the same way again. From then on she was just a liar and a cheat. “There is an amoral aura about her, and her world revolves around herself and false material values” (Samuel, 1).
Even her abrasive personality couldn’t help the fact that no one could trust her anymore, not even the reader. Because she was “both a sports woman and an incorrigible liar and cheat at golf” (Hays, 2). With no inside scoop or past knowledge, we are forced to trust what we are told, but with Jordan narrating one part one should be skeptical with what she says. And with Jordan Bakers “serious character flaws, ‘dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply’ (p 63)” (Cutchins, 4). On top of that, Jordan Baker is conceited.
Throughout the story, the only person Jordan is worried about is herself. She only ever did anything if it would help her image, and if she felt someone wasn’t good enough for her to talk to she wouldn’t. When she first met Nick, she acted like she didn’t care and was very nonchalant about it, “she was extended and full length at her end of the divan, completely motionless, and with her chin raised a little, as if balancing something on it which was quite likely to fall. If she saw me out of the corner of her eyes she gave no hint of it- indeed. I was almost surprised into murmuring an apology for having disturbed her by coming in” (The Great Gatsby p 8).
She just sat there, as if Nick wasn’t good enough for a greeting, or even a hello. And as (Samuel, 1) said, Jordan “uses and disposes of people”, for her own gain. Jordan applies the sense of power she gained from golf to her everyday life, which just makes her seem snobby. In addition to that, she always feels she has the right to know other people’s business. She always knows the recent gossip, for example she knew all about Tom and his mistress from eavesdropping, and she thought she knew all there is to know about Gatsby, and shared everything she knew with anyone just to get people to like her.
But whenever she does talk to anyone, she has to put them down. Jordan is constantly trying to make herself look better than others. This is obvious when she is talking to the girl in the yellow dress at Gatsby’s party; she blatantly asked if she died her hair (Lisca, 2). With all the power she thinks she has, she continues to put others down throughout the whole story, not doing one bit of good. Not only do her words cause harm, but her actions do as well. Jordan Baker is always saying one thing but doing another.
Her whole character throughout the novel was just one big contradiction, as Peter Hays said; she is “both a sports woman and an incorrigible liar and cheat at golf” (Hays, 2). You can’t be both, just like you can’t call someone mean when you yourself are mean-you’d be a hypocrite. One major way Jordan contradicts herself is when nick calls her a ‘bad driver’, but Jordan responds by saying that it doesn’t matter that she’s a bad driver because other people are good drivers and will watch out for her (The Great Gatsby, 34). That statement shows just how much Jordan cares for others, which is not a lot. The way she said that made her seem snobby and rude, and after Daisy hit Myrtle that statement seems even more wrong then it already is.
Even though Jordan Baker was described in the story as graceful and jaunty, those words don’t really describe who she is. Jordan Baker is actually a cheat, liar and a very conceited hypocrite. She is mean to everyone she meets and only cares about herself, she is not the kind of friend you would want. Throughout the whole story of The Great Gatsby, Jordan Baker has caused more harm than good.