Who Is Klipspringer?

In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel “The Great Gatsby,” Klipspringer is a character who frequents the title character’s house, freeloading off Jay Gatsby’s immense wealth. After Gatsby’s death, Klipspringer demonstrates his callousness by calling Gatsby’s friend Nick Carraway, not to express his condolences, but to get his shoes back.

The character of Klipspringer serves as an embodiment of the type of person that Gatsby’s wealth attracts — a person interested only in money, glamour and fame, with no thought given to Gatsby’s humanity. Fitzgerald contrasts Klipspringer’s character with another secondary character, Owl Eyes, a strange man with large glasses who expresses to Nick his astonishment at the fact that Gatsby owns real books. This suggests that, unlike Klipspringer, Owl Eyes is able to see that there is depth to Gatsby behind the facade of wealth and power. Additionally, Owl Eyes expresses genuine remorse at Gatsby’s passing and pays the house a visit, which forms a sharp contrast to Klipspringer’s self-absorbed behavior.

Fitzgerald’s naming of the Klipspringer character is perhaps ironic, as the Klipspringer is a type of small South African antelope noted for its loyalty to its mate. That said, Klipspringer is Afrikaans for “rock jumper,” which mirrors the character Klipspringer’s penchant for jumping from friend to friend.