I could have sworn I heard the owl-eyed man break into ghostly laughter.
The owl-eyed man appeared in Chapter 3, and he is notable because Fitzgerald associates him with a sort of accidental wisdom.
‘See!’ he cried triumphantly. ‘It’s a bona fide piece of printed matter. It fooled me. This fella’s a regular Belasco. It’s a triumph. What thoroughness! What realism! Knew when to stop too—didn’t cut the pages. But what do you want? What do you expect?’
He appreciates the effort Gatsby takes to create his façade—using real books rather than cardboard. But this man notices that none of the pages are cut i.e. Gatsby hasn’t read any of the books. This man drunkenly seems to understand the superficial social game that everyone plays at Gatsby’s party.
The use of the word “ghostly” creates an ominous mood. Nick picks up on the significance of this moment. Everything Gatsby has worked towards for five years has come down to this, and it’s almost underwhelming in how silent and empty Gatsby’s house is. Was the chase better than the prize?
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