The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald
Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title  The Great Gatsby

author  F. Scott Fitzgerald

type of work  Novel

genre  Tragedy, Realism, Modernism, Social Satire

language  English

time and place written  1923–1924, America and France

date of first publication  1925

publisher  Charles Scribner’s Sons

narrator  Nick Carraway; Carraway not only narrates the story but implies that he is the book’s author

point of view  Nick Carraway narrates in both first and third person, presenting only what he himself observes. Nick alternates sections where he presents events objectively, as they appeared to him at the time, with sections where he gives his own interpretations of the story’s meaning and of the motivations of the other characters.

tone  Nick’s attitudes toward Gatsby and Gatsby’s story are ambivalent and contradictory. At times he seems to disapprove of Gatsby’s excesses and breaches of manners and ethics, but he also romanticizes and admires Gatsby, describing the events of the novel in a nostalgic and elegiac tone.

tense  Past

setting (time)  Summer 1922

settings (place)  Long Island and New York City

protagonist  Gatsby and/or Nick

major conflict  Gatsby has amassed a vast fortune in order to win the affections of the upper-class Daisy Buchanan, but his mysterious past stands in the way of his being accepted by her.

rising action  Gatsby’s lavish parties, Gatsby’s arrangement of a meeting with Daisy at Nick’s

climax  There are two possible climaxes: Gatsby’s reunion with Daisy in Chapters 5–6; the confrontation between Gatsby and Tom in the Plaza Hotel in Chapter 7.

falling action  Daisy’s rejection of Gatsby, Myrtle’s death, Gatsby’s murder

themes  The decline of the American dream, the spirit of the 1920s, the difference between social classes, the role of symbols in the human conception of meaning, the role of the past in dreams of the future

motifs  The connection between events and weather, the connection between geographical location and social values, images of time, extravagant parties, the quest for wealth

symbols  The green light on Daisy’s dock, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg, the valley of ashes, Gatsby’s parties, East Egg, West Egg

foreshadowing  Dasiy’s unattainability, Tom’s relationship with Myrtle, Gatsby’s fate, and Myrtle’s hit-and-run death.