Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
File Size: Single PDF File (776 KB)
The Great Gatsby is a 1925 novel written by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald that follows a cast of characters living in the fictional town of West and East Egg on prosperous Long Island in the summer of 1922. The story primarily concerns the young and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and his quixotic passion and obsession for the beautiful former debutante Daisy Buchanan. Considered to be Fitzgerald’s magnum opus, The Great Gatsby explores themes of decadence, idealism, resistance to change, social upheaval, and excess, creating a portrait of the Roaring Twenties that has been described as a cautionary tale regarding the American Dream.
Fitzgerald—inspired by the parties he had attended while visiting Long Island’s north shore—began planning the novel in 1923, desiring to produce, in his words, “something new—something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned.” Progress was slow, with Fitzgerald completing his first draft following a move to the French Riviera in 1924. His editor, Maxwell Perkins, felt the book was vague and persuaded the author to revise over the following winter. Fitzgerald was repeatedly ambivalent about the book’s title and he considered a variety of alternatives, including titles that referenced the Roman character Trimalchio; the title he was last documented to have desired was Under the Red, White, and Blue.
In the summer of 1922, Nick Carraway, a Yale graduate and veteran of the Great War from the Midwest—who serves as the novel’s narrator—takes a job in New York as a bond salesman. He rents a small house on Long Island, in the fictional village of West Egg, next door to the lavish mansion of Jay Gatsby, a mysterious multi-millionaire who holds extravagant parties but does not participate in them. Nick drives around the bay to East Egg for dinner at the home of his cousin, Daisy Fay Buchanan, and her husband, Tom, a college acquaintance of Nick’s. They introduce Nick to Jordan Baker, an attractive, cynical young golfer. She reveals to Nick that Tom has a mistress, Myrtle Wilson, who lives in the “valley of ashes”, an industrial dumping ground between West Egg and New York City. Not long after this revelation, Nick travels to New York City with Tom and Myrtle to an apartment where Tom keeps his affairs with Myrtle and others. At Tom’s New York apartment, a vulgar and bizarre party takes place. It ends with Tom breaking Myrtle’s nose after she annoys him by saying Daisy’s name several times.
Nick eventually receives an invitation to one of Gatsby’s parties. Nick encounters Jordan Baker at the party and they meet Gatsby himself, an aloof and surprisingly young man who recognizes Nick from their same division in the Great War. Through Jordan, Nick later learns that Gatsby knew Daisy through a purely chance meeting in 1917 when Daisy and her friends were doing volunteer services’ work with young officers headed to Europe. From their brief meetings and casual encounters at that time, Gatsby became (and still is) deeply in love with Daisy. Gatsby had hoped that his wild parties would attract an unsuspecting Daisy, who lived across the bay, to appear at his doorstep and allow him to present himself as a man of wealth and position.
Having developed a budding friendship with Nick, Gatsby uses him to arrange a reunion between himself and Daisy. Nick invites Daisy to have tea at his house without telling her that Gatsby will also be there. After an initially awkward reunion, Gatsby and Daisy begin an affair over the summer. At a luncheon at the Buchanans’ house, Daisy speaks to Gatsby with such undisguised intimacy that Tom realizes she is in love with Gatsby. Though Tom is himself involved in an extramarital affair, he is outraged by his wife’s infidelity. He forces the group to drive into New York City and confronts Gatsby in a suite at the Plaza Hotel, asserting that he and Daisy have a history that Gatsby could never understand. In addition to that, he announces to his wife that Gatsby is a criminal whose fortune comes from bootlegging alcohol and other illegal activities. Daisy realizes that her allegiance is to Tom, and Tom contemptuously sends her back to East Egg with Gatsby, attempting to prove that Gatsby cannot hurt her.
On the way back, Gatsby’s car strikes and kills Tom’s mistress, Myrtle. Nick later learns from Gatsby that Daisy, not Gatsby himself, was driving the car at the time of the accident. Myrtle’s husband, George Wilson, falsely concludes that the driver of the yellow car is the secret lover he suspects she has. He learns that the yellow car is Gatsby’s, fatally shoots him and then turns the gun on himself. Nick stages an unsettlingly small funeral for Gatsby which none of Gatsby’s associates attend and only one of his partygoers (besides Nick) attends. Later, Nick runs into Tom in New York and finds out that Tom had told George that the yellow car was Gatsby’s and gave him Gatsby’s address. Disillusioned with the East, Nick moves back to the Midwest.