The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 - 1940)

The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
(1896 - 1940)

Type of Work:

Human drama

Setting

New York City and Long Island; 1922

Principal Characters

Nick Carraway, a young bond salesman from
the Midwest, and the story's narrator

Jay Gatsby, a rich, young racketeer

Tom Buchanan, a wealthy playboy

Daisy Buchanan, his beautiful wife, and

Nick's cousin

Jordan Baker, an attractive pro golfer,
and the Buchanan's friend

George Wilson, a gas station owner

Myrtle Wilson, his wife and Tom Buchanan's
mistress

Story Overveiw

After his return from the "Teutonic migration
known as the Great War," Nick Carraway felt too restless to work selling
hardware in his Midwestern home town. He moved east to New York and entered
the "bond business." Settling on the lowbudget side of Long Island in West

Egg, Nick rented a bungalow next door to a mysterious, wealthy man-about-town
known as Gatsby.

Shortly after arriving in New York, Nick
was invited to dinner at the house of Tom and Daisy Buchanan on the more-fashionable
side of Lon 9 Island. Nick did not know either Tom or Daisy very well,
but he was Daisy's second cousin and had attended Yale with Tom. Tom led

Nick into a back room of the Buchanan house, where they found Daisy talking
with her friend Jordan Baker, a haughty yet beautiful young woman who appeared
to be "balancing something on her chin." By the time dinner was served
on the porch, some untold tension was obviously building between Tom and

Daisy, which climaxed after Tom left to answer a phone call. When he did
not return, Daisy stomped inside to see what was keeping her husband. Jordan
hushed Nick before he could speak - she wanted to eavesdrop on the Buchanans'
muffled argument. Apparently Tom had met "some woman in New York..."

When Nick arrived at his apartment that
evening, lie saw the figure of the reclusive Mr. Gatsby himself, who had

1. come out to determine what share was his of [the] local heavens." Nick
almost called out to introduce himself to his neighbor, but something in

Gatsby's manner told Nick that he was content just then to be alone. From
what Nick could see, Gatsby was staring towards the city at a "single green
light, minute and far away."

A couple of days later, Tom invited Nick
to meet his mistress. He led Nick off the commuter train into a sleazy,
unkempt area filled with garbage heaps. From there, they made their way
to a second- rate gas station owned by a "spiritless man" named Wilson.

Under the pretext that he had a car he wanted to sell Wilson, Tom covertly
arranged to meet Wilson's dowdy, plump wife, Myrtle, in New York. On the
ride into the City, Myrtle, along with her sister and a few friends, sat
judiciously in a train car separate from Tom's; then everyone took a taxi
over to an apartment that Tom kept for his trysts with Myrtle. All that
afternoon and evening the group drank whiskey and talked, while Nick tried
unsuccessfully to find an excuse to leave. The party finally ended in a
violent argument in which Tom broke Myrtle's nose.

One of the few things Nick knew about Gatsby
was that he threw lavish parties, where hundreds of people "came and went
like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars." Finally,

Nick was invited to one of the affairs, where he again ran into Jordan,
and they mingled with others in conversations about who exactly the curious

Gatsby was; it seemed none of the guests had even had a close view of their
elusive host. Rumors placed him as the Kaiser's son, or as a German spy

During the War, or maybe a fugitive killer.

As the party wore on, Nick and Jordan found
themselves sitting at a table with a rowdy, drunken girl and a man about

Nick's age. The two men began discussing their respective military service.

Then Nick's new acquaintance introduced himself: he was Jay Gatsby.

Much further into the evening, Jordan and

Gatsbv met in private to discuss something that Jordan said she was pledged
not to reveal to anyone, not even Nick, until the right time.

Weeks - and several parties - later, Gatsby
arranged for Nick to have tea with Jordan, where she divulged the details
of her conversation with Gatsby on the night of the party: It seemed that

Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan had been well acquainted before the War. Gatsby
at that time was a young lieutenant waiting to go to the front, and Daisy
was "just eighteen ... by far the most popular of all the young girls in

Louisville."