novel’s narrator, Nick is a young man from Minnesota who, after
being educated at Yale and fighting in World War I, goes to New
York City to learn the bond business. Honest, tolerant, and inclined
to reserve judgment, Nick often serves as a confidant for those
with troubling secrets. After moving to West Egg, a fictional area
of Long Island that is home to the newly rich, Nick quickly befriends
his next-door neighbor, the mysterious Jay Gatsby. As Daisy Buchanan’s
cousin, he facilitates the rekindling of the romance between her and
Gatsby. The Great Gatsby
is told entirely through Nick’s
eyes; his thoughts and perceptions shape and color the story.
in-depth analysis of Nick Carraway.
title character and protagonist of the novel, Gatsby is a fabulously
wealthy young man living in a Gothic mansion in West Egg. He is
famous for the lavish parties he throws every Saturday night, but
no one knows where he comes from, what he does, or how he made his
fortune. As the novel progresses, Nick learns that Gatsby was born
James Gatz on a farm in North Dakota; working for a millionaire
made him dedicate his life to the achievement of wealth. When he
met Daisy while training to be an officer in Louisville, he fell in
love with her. Nick also learns that Gatsby made his fortune through
criminal activity, as he was willing to do anything to gain the
social position he thought necessary to win Daisy. Nick views Gatsby
as a deeply flawed man, dishonest and vulgar, whose extraordinary
optimism and power to transform his dreams into reality make him
in-depth analysis of Jay Gatsby.
cousin, and the woman Gatsby loves. As a young woman in Louisville
before the war, Daisy was courted by a number of officers, including
Gatsby. She fell in love with Gatsby and promised to wait for him. However,
Daisy harbors a deep need to be loved, and when a wealthy, powerful
young man named Tom Buchanan asked her to marry him, Daisy decided
not to wait for Gatsby after all. Now a beautiful socialite, Daisy
lives with Tom across from Gatsby in the fashionable East Egg district
of Long Island. She is sardonic and somewhat cynical, and behaves superficially
to mask her pain at her husband’s
in-depth analysis of Daisy Buchanan.
immensely wealthy husband, once a member of Nick’s social club at
Yale. Powerfully built and hailing from a socially solid old family,
Tom is an arrogant, hypocritical bully. His social attitudes are laced
with racism and sexism, and he never even considers trying to live
up to the moral standard he demands from those around him. He has
no moral qualms about his own extramarital affair with Myrtle, but
when he begins to suspect Daisy and Gatsby of having an affair,
he becomes outraged and forces a confrontation.
in-depth analysis of Tom Buchanan.
friend, a woman with whom Nick becomes romantically involved during
the course of the novel. A competitive golfer, Jordan represents
one of the “new women” of the 1920s—cynical,
boyish, and self-centered. Jordan is beautiful, but also dishonest:
she cheated in order to win her first golf tournament and continually
bends the truth.
in-depth analysis of Jordan Baker.
lover, whose lifeless husband George owns a run-down garage in the
valley of ashes. Myrtle herself possesses a fierce vitality and
desperately looks for a way to improve her situation. Unfortunately
for her, she chooses Tom, who treats her as a mere object of
in-depth analysis of Myrtle Wilson.
husband, the lifeless, exhausted owner of a run-down auto shop at
the edge of the valley of ashes. George loves and idealizes Myrtle,
and is devastated by her affair with Tom. George is consumed with
grief when Myrtle is killed. George is comparable to Gatsby in that
both are dreamers and both are ruined by their unrequited love for
women who love Tom.
eccentric, bespectacled drunk whom Nick meets at the first party
he attends at Gatsby’s mansion. Nick finds Owl Eyes looking through
Gatsby’s library, astonished that the books are real.
shallow freeloader who seems almost to live at Gatsby’s mansion,
taking advantage of his host’s money. As soon as Gatsby dies, Klipspringer disappears—he
does not attend the funeral, but he does call Nick about a pair
of tennis shoes that he left at Gatsby’s mansion.
friend, a prominent figure in organized crime. Before the events of the novel
take place, Wolfsheim helped Gatsby to make his fortune bootlegging illegal
liquor. His continued acquaintance with Gatsby suggests that Gatsby is still
involved in illegal business.