The Great Gatsby

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Scribner Publishers republished Frances Scott Fitzgerald’s classic The Great Gatsby in 2004. The narrator Nick Carraway moves to a town called West Egg in Long Island. Formerly from a Minnesota town, Nick Carraway’s Midwestern values seem out of place amongst his newly rich neighbors. However, Nick is fascinated by his next-door neighbor Gatsby. Gatsby is well known for his lavish parties and he seems to have a reputation for entertaining. After one party, Nick, his girlfriend Jordon, and Gatsby develop a friendship and eventually Gatsby introduces Nick to Meyer Wolfsheim. Nick has wondered why Gatsby is so rich, and he suspects that Meyer Wolfsheim is shady. Jordon lets Nick know that Gatsby told her that he was in love with Nick’s cousin Daisy Buchanan and they used to go out. Daisy’s husband Tom is cheating on Daisy with a married woman, so Daisy agrees to have tea with Gatsby and they rekindle their old romance. It turns out that Gatsby was born James Gatz and has a poor background. However, Gatsby’s background instilled a need for wealth. Tom is suspicious of Gatsby and Daisy, so he is rude to Gatsby. In the meantime, it turns out that Tom’s mistress Myrtle was run over by a car. Nick believes that Gatsby and Daisy accidentally ran her over. Myrtle’s husband Wilson is distraught over his wife’s death and the fact that he found out she was cheating on him. Wilson kills Gatsby and then commits suicide. It turns out that Daisy actually was driving, but Gatsby said he would take the blame. Needless to say, Gatsby died a lonely man because only a few people came to his funeral. Disillusioned with Daisy, Tom, and the East, Nick decides that he will move back home.

For an older book, the plot still covered themes that are relevant today. People value money and we all want to attain the “American Dream.” In a way, the book’s plot was like a reality show in which people cheat on each other and compete with each other. It seems like everyone wants to be better than the other.

Fitzgerald described Nick as a man who didn’t like to criticize others. Nick learned from his father when his father told him that “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone…just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had” (chapter 1). This seems like Nick is a nice guy. In addition, he looks up to Gatsby and while others who were born rich don’t seem to trust him, Nick sees what’s on the inside. Nick describes Gatsby as a man who “understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself” (chapter 3). Daisy and Tom were slightly obnoxious. They both cheated on each other, and they seemed to be fake.

The setting took place in a town in Long Island, New York. However, there were two distinct sides. While West Egg and East Egg were both rich towns, West Egg was a town filled with newly rich people, so East Egg neighbors were old wealth.

The point of view was written as though Nick wrote the book. He was the narrator too. The first person point of view made it seem like Nick was talking to the reader. In this way, Fitzgerald’s tone was slightly sarcastic and ironic. For example, Nick describes New York’s fifth avenue as “so warm and soft, almost pastoral, on the summer Sunday afternoon that I wouldn't have been surprised to see a great flock of white sheep turn the corner” (chapter 2). It’s sarcastic because Nick compared a busy city street to a country scene. In addition, sheep normally travel in herds and we can’t tell one from another. The irony is that the majority of the characters wanted to appear different than what they were, but essentially, they all were leading lives that were somewhat superficial. However, they all wanted to appear like good people.