The Great Gatsby

by: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Protagonist

Although Nick Carraway is the narrator of The Great Gatsby, and we only see things he witnesses or is told about, Jay Gatsby is the protagonist of the novel. In addition to lending his name to the book’s title, Gatsby also serves as the novel’s focal point. Gatsby’s quest to win back Daisy incites all the action of the book, as well as the tragic conclusion. Unlike Nick, who seems to not know what he wants, or else to not want more than to be an observer, Gatsby is clear and determined about his goal. From the moment he first kissed Daisy, Gatsby has aspired to attain her. This aspiration drives all his subsequent choices, and those choices in turn affect the other characters in the novel. Mildred’s death, George’s suicide, and Gatsby’s murder are all the result of Gatsby’s quest to have Daisy for himself. Tom, Daisy, and Nick’s decisions to leave the east are also caused by Gatsby’s actions. Despite his power to change his life and the lives of others, Gatsby fails to attain his goal. He dies without having won Daisy back from Tom. In fact, we can infer that Gatsby’s presence in their lives served to draw the couple closer together – the exact opposite of what Gatsby wanted.