The Great Gatsby

By: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Characters, Point of View and Style


Nick Carraway - The main character of the novel, a graduate of Yale and a World War I veteran who is 29. He is a bond salesmen and a new resident of West Egg who happens to live next door to Jay Gatsby. He is sarcastic, funny and somewhat optimistic, however these qualities slowly change as the novel progresses.

Jay Gatsby - The neighbor of Nick Carraway, Jay Gatsby is a young mysterious millionaire with shady business connections whom no one knows much about. He too is a veteran of World War I during which he met the woman who he continues to be obsessed with, Daisy Buchanan. He met Daisy while stationed at an army camp in Louisville.

Daisy Buchanan - An attractive and arguably self absorbed girl who is described in the novel as being a flapper. Daisy is Nick's cousin and the wife of Tom Buchanan. She also had a relationship with Gatsby prior to her marriage with Tom and her choice between the two of them plays a large role in the development of the novel.

Tom Buchanan - An old money millionaire living in East Egg, Tom is Daisy's husband. He is an arrogant man with an athletic and muscular build formerly a football star at Yale. Tom is also an advocate of old practices, and continues to dislike "new money" and blacks throughout the novel.

Myrtle Wilson - George's wife and the mistress of Tom Buchanan. Myrtle is accidentally killed by Gatsby's car which plays a big role in the ending of the novel.

George Wilson - He is the Husband of Myrtle and the mechanic/owner of a garage. He is highly disliked by Tom Buchanan and his wife Myrtle and is considered to be very dumb. When he learns about the death of his wife he murders Jay Gatsby wrongfully believing that he was the one driving the car that killed Myrtle.

Jordan Baker - A longtime friend of Daisy and Nick Carraway's girlfriend for the majority of the novel, Jordan Baker is an amateur golfer with an aloof attitude and a slightly shady reputation.

Point of View

The Great Gatsby is told from a first person point of view from the narrator Nick Carraway. Having Nick as the narrator makes the story interesting and rather different as the main characters and story of the novel, the love story between Gatsby and Daisy, does not directly contain the narrator. This point of view gives and interesting perspective of observation of the events as they unfold.


The Great Gatsby is written in typical F. Scott Fitzgerald style in the sense that he enjoys starting sentences with one idea or character and ending up at another place entirely. This means that the novel can draw really good connections between characters or other ideas.

Ex. "If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away," from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

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Main Story

Story is told sometime after 1922, and starts as Nick Carraway recently moves into a modest home in the rich West Egg near New York City seeking his fortune as a bond salesman. Shortly after he arrives he travels across the Sound to visit his cousin Daisy in East egg. Daisy is married to Tom Buchanan, a built and imposing man that Nick had met in college. Nick also meets the golfer Jordan Baker with whom he eventually dates.

Some time later Nick is invited to go into town with Tom and his mistress Myrtle Wilson, the wife of George Wilson the owner of a garage in the valley of ashes. The valley of ashes is a desolate rundown area that marks the change from the city to the suburbs. The three of them along with some of Myrtle's friends spend the afternoon in drunken fun downtown. This section of the book is often the reason the book is challenged by parents or organizations due to the sexual references of Tom and Myrtle.

Following the incident downtown, Nick is invited to one of the great parties next door by his neighbor Gatsby. There he runs into Jordan Baker and Gatsby whom he learns remains apart from the partiers, as if he is searching for something. Gatsby takes Jordan aside and tells her something in secret to which she becomes amazed.

As the summer progresses Nick and Gatsby begin to become closer friends. One day they journey into town together where Nick meets Meyer Wolfshiem, whom is discovered later to be Gatsby's link to organized crime. Later that day while Nick is our with Jordan, Jordan tells him of what Gatsby had told her at the party. Gatsby was in love with Daisy, and they had dated prior however he did not have the means to support her at the time. So Gatsby made his fortune and throws extravagant parties across the Sound from her in hopes that she would notice and perhaps come to one of those parties. Gatsby is finally ready to see Daisy again so asks if Nick would invite her over for tea one day so Gatsby can "accidentally" bump into her.

The day for the meeting has finally come and Nick's house has been made perfect by the extreme generosity of Gatsby who wants everything to be precise and perfect for his reunion with Daisy. At first the two are slightly awkward but as time passes they once again warm up to one and other and soon Nick feels like an outsider to the affection they show for one and other. They move from Nick's house to Gatsby's as Gatsby shows Daisy all the extravagant things he has and how far he has come from poverty.

Nick then flashes back to where James Gatz goes from a poor farmer to becoming Jay Gatsby entrepreneur. Jay changed his name at 17 around the time he met Dan Cody, a rich fellow who takes him under his wing. Jay learns everything about being a man from Cody and travels around the world with him. By the time Cody dies Gatsby has been fully transformed into the new him.

Soon after this flashback we discover that Tom and Daisy will be attending one of Gatsby's parties. While at the party Tom spends his time chasing women and Gatsby and Daisy sneak off to Nick's yard while Nick keeps guard for them. When Daisy and Tom leave Gatsby tells Nick of his desire to fully recapture the past between him and Daisy, and once again be happy together. Gatsby then goes on to tell how and why Daisy has made such an impact on him.

As the summer goes on Daisy and Gatsby begin to get closer and closer spending more time with one and other. Finally that fateful day in the summer comes when Gatsby and Nick join the Buchanan's and Jordan for lunch in East Egg. Due to the immense heat of that day Daisy suggests they travel downtown together. No longer hiding her love for Gatsby she playfully speaks to and hangs our with him. Daisy and Gatsby take Tom's coupe while the other three take Gatsby's car. Tom stops for gas at Wilson's place where he discovers that he has learned of Myrtle's affair and they are moving out west, although he has not discovered who it is with. Tom begins to panic as he has lost his wife and mistress in a matter of hours.

The group eventually finds themselves at Plaza Hotel where they continue to drink and talk. Tom begins to pester Gatsby about his intentions with Daisy, being blunt and confrontational the truth finally comes out: Gatsby wants Daisy to admit that she never loved Tom and always loved himself. When Daisy doesn't do this Gatsby declares that she will leave Tom, however Tom knows that his old money and power found through generations of wealth are not something that Daisy will leave for Gatsby's newfound money. Tom then orders Daisy and Gatsby to head home in Gatsby's car and Nick, Jordan and Tom follow.

As Tom's car nears Wilson's garage they can see that some type of accident has occurred. Pulling over they find out that Myrtle Wilson has been killed by a passing car who never bothered to stop, a car that appears to be Gatsby's car. The three of them then continue to head home. Nick, who is now disgusted with the morality of the people with whom he's been good friends with, meets Gatsby outside the Buchanan house who claims he is keeping watch for Daisy. Nick finds out through a series of questions that Daisy, not Gatsby was driving the car that hit Myrtle Wilson, however Gatsby has agreed to take all the blame for the incident. Nick, greatly agitated by all that has happened that day, heads home with an overarching feel of dread about the upcoming weeks.

Nearing dawn the next day Nick heads over to Gatsby's where he learns more about how Daisy came into and stayed in Gatsby's life. Later that day while at work Nick cannot concentrate and receives a phone call from Jordan Baker with whom he quickly ends and thereby ending the friendship. Nick decides to take the early train home to check on Gatsby.

The action then switches to Wilson who, distraught over his wife's death, begins to go searching for the person who killed his wife. Nick retraces his steps and finds that Wilson made it to Gatsby's house by early afternoon where he murders Gatsby and then kills himself.

After Gatsby's death Nick begins to make the arrangements for his burial although he begins to become perplexed at the people who refuse to come to his funeral. All the people who came to his parties and drank his liquor and wine, none of them will come to his funeral. Not even Meyer Wolfshiem, Gatsby's business partner, will publicly mourn his death. Nick then receives a telegram from Henry C. Gatz who is Jay's father who said he will be coming in town for the funeral. The funeral day comes and is attended only by Nick, Henry, a few servants, the postman and the minister at the gravesite. Despite his popularity in life, after his death Gatsby becomes forgotten by all who once knew him.

As Nick moves back to the Midwest, he goes to see Tom Buchanan one more time. Tom then asks why Nick refuses to shake his hand and Nick reply's "You know what I think of you". Also we find out that Wilson came to Tom the night before Gatsby was killed asking about the car that killed Myrtle. Tom said Gatsby owned the car and told Wilson where he was. Tom believed he was speeding up justice.

On the last night before leaving Nick goes out to the pier at Gatsby's house and remembers the first night he say Gatsby leaning out to grab the green light. Nick then notes how we are all like Gatsby, boats moving up a river but continually feeling the pull of the past.

Why Was it Banned or Challenged?

The Great Gatsby was challenged at Baptist College in Charleston, South Carolina in 1987 (now known as Charleston Southern University). The book was challenged due to language and sexual references in the book. Also the book has been challenged on a bunch of smaller levels by parents who do not want their child to read the story of Jay Gatsby in school.

Many people argue against its banning because they scenes claimed to have sexual references are very vague and not grounds for banning. I agree in saying there is not really much foul content if any at all in this book and it is a good piece of literature that people should read and study.

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