The novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald portrayed the views, beliefs, and actions of the socially elite of nineteen-twenties America. Fitzgerald was not biased for or against the rich; he simply chronicled the lives of his characters and how money and class separated people. The best example of this was life of the title character himself, Jay Gatsby. Inquiring minds want to know, “Who is Gatsby, and what makes him so great?”
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The novel begins with the introduction of the narrator, Nick Carraway. After fighting in World War I, Nick left his prominent family in the West to move to West Egg near New York City to learn the bond business. Despite the original plan to live with an associate, Nick ends up living alone next door to a mansion in which Jay Gatsby resides.
In the first of several documented gatherings, Nick spent the afternoon with Daisy, his distant cousin, Tom, her husband, and Jordan Baker, a prominent golfer. That was the first time Nick heard about Gatsby and his extravagant parties. The afternoon also uncovered Daisy’s suspicion of Tom’s unfaithfulness. Her suspicion was confirmed to Nick in the next chapter when he accompanied Tom to New York. Half way through the train ride, they stopped at an auto garage to speak to George Wilson about a car Tom was supposed to sell him. When Wilson went to his office for a moment, his wife, Myrtle appeared. Tom told her that he wanted to see her and to take the next train to New York. When Wilson reappeared, Myrtle announced that she was going to visit her sister that afternoon. That evening Nick, Tom, and Myrtle rendezvoused with others in the apartment that Tom had purchased for them. It was during this time that Nick was informed of the fact that neither Tom nor Myrtle could stand their spouses.
Every weekend, Nick’s neighbor, Gatsby, held extravagant parties at his house. One morning, Gatsby’s butler came to Nick’s house and invited him to the party that evening. It was there that Nick met up once again with Jordan and eventually was introduced to the infamous Gatsby. Later in the night Jordan and Gatsby disappeared for an hour after which Nick said goodbye to Jordan and Gatsby and went home.
One morning in July, Gatsby went to Nick’s house and proclaimed that the two were going to the city for lunch. During the long ride there Gatsby told Nick the story of his life, which Nick later discovered to be completely false. He then told Nick that he was going to make a large request of him, but that he could not ask him himself and Jordan was going to tell him later that day when they went out to tea. When the two men arrived in New York City, they had lunch with Meyer Wolfsheim, the “man who fixed the World Series in 1919.” When they were leaving Nick recognized Tom and introduced Gatsby and Tom to each other. Before the three could begin talking, Gatsby had left.
At tea with Jordan, Nick learned the whole story about Daisy and Gatsby, and how they fell in love, but then Gatsby had to leave for the war. Daisy had married Tom, thinking that Gatsby would never return. It was also no coincidence that Gatsby lived so close to Daisy; he had bought that house so that he could be just across the bay from Daisy. It was at that point that Nick was informed of the favor he was to perform. Gatsby wanted Jordan to ask Nick if he could invite Daisy over for tea so that Gatsby could “pop in.”
Nick arranged the tea, telling Daisy specifically not to bring Tom. At first there was nothing but awkward pauses between the couple, but after much prodding from Nick, Gatsby and Daisy began to talk. Then Gatsby suggested that the three of them go look at his house. It was there that Nick left the couple completely engrossed in one another. After that Nick did not see much of Gatsby for several weeks. That is until the party that both Daisy and her husband attended. When Nick finally met up with Gatsby at the end of the night, Gatsby was depressed because Daisy did not enjoy herself. Nick suggested that maybe it was not possible for Gatsby to repeat the past with Daisy, a notion that Gatsby quickly rejected.
At Daisy’s request, Nick was invited to her house for tea with Jordan and Gatsby. Tom was in and out of the salon answering phone calls and getting drinks. After much tension, the group decided to go into New York. Daisy and Gatsby rode in Tom’s car and Tom, Jordan and Nick rode in Gatsby’s car. Tom had to stop for gas at Wilson’s garage where Wilson informed Tom that he was taking his wife out west because he had recently discovered that she was having an affair. Tom quickly left and caught up with Gatsby and Daisy. The group finally decided to meet at the Plaza Hotel and rent a room for the afternoon. Tension began to mount when Tom began to ask Gatsby questions about his past. During the verbal assault, Gatsby burst out that Daisy had never loved Tom and forced Daisy to admit the same. She reluctantly obeyed, but then took it back. It was then that Daisy told Tom that she was leaving him. At that point Gatsby and Daisy left the city in Gatsby’s car.
Daisy drove on the way home. As she passed Wilson’s garage, Myrtle ran out in front of the car because she thought Tom was coming to take her away. The car hit her and killed her instantly. Daisy kept going and she and Gatsby took the car to Gatsby’s house and called a taxi to take them to her house. Tom, Jordan, and Nick passed the scene later and discovered what had happened. Tom immediately blamed Gatsby for killing Myrtle.
The next morning, Nick went over to Gatsby’s house and they sat around for a while. After they had finished breakfast, Nick had to leave to catch his train for work. He left Gatsby at home alone, that is until Wilson showed up to kill him. Early that morning Wilson arrived at the Buchanan residence with a gun and Tom told him whose car had killed his wife. Late in the afternoon Gatsby decided to use his swimming pool, which is where he was found shot to death. Wilson was found dead in the woods nearby.
In the next few days, Nick arranged the funeral. He called Daisy to tell her what had happened, but she and Tom had left for a lengthy vacation in Europe. He called all of the acquaintances of Gatsby’s that he could think of. In the end only three people showed up on the rainy day of the funeral. After the funeral, Nick was haunted by the events of the summer. He met with Jordan who informed him that she was engaged to another man, and he ran into Tom who explained what had happened to Daisy and himself. After all this Nick returned to his home in the west.
What made Gatsby so great was what most people did not even know about him. His greatness came from the way he had gone from being dirt poor to being one of the socially elite, and all for the love of one woman. Gatsby wanted to believe that Daisy truly loved him, but unconsciously he knew how materialistic she was. He knew that the only way they could be together was if he was wealthy, and the quickest way to do that was illegally.
F. Scott Fitzgerald succeeded in chronicling the views, beliefs, and actions of group of wealthy individuals in the nineteen twenties. He was able to do this with in-depth characters, an appealing plot, and a good sense of what really went on during that time period.