The Great Gatsby Study Guide

Who is the narrator? Nick Carraway
What is the point of view of the story? First point of view
What advice does his father give him? (Write the quote and what it means) Nick’s father tells him that if he holds men according to his own moral standards, he will misunderstood them. That when he feels like criticizing anyone, he should remember that all the people in this world haven’t had his advantages. “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
Why would Nick start the novel with his information? Nick Carraway, the story’s narrator, remembers his upbringing and the lessons his family taught him. Readers learn of his past, his education, and his sense of moral justice, as he begins to unfold the story of Jay Gatsby. The narration takes place more than a year after the incidents described, so Nick is working through the filter of memory in relaying the story’s events.
What does Nick mean when he says, “Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope”? Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope suggests a willingness to delay judgment on people who behave badly. We want to give them the benefit of the doubt but find some people never change hence “infinite hope”. Nick meets a lot of superficial selfish people in East Egg. He hopes for some redeeming traits to come out of them but never sees any.
What does Nick mean when he says, “Conduct may be founded on the hard rock or the wet marshes but after a certain point I don’t care what it’s founded on” ? The phrase “Conduct may be founded on the hard rock or the wet marshes” is a metaphor that explores two different foundations, like that of a building. Conduct, or, as Nick implies here, behavior based on morals, can be solid and unshakable if founded on “hard rock,” while the conduct of those who have it founded on “wet marshes” really lack a moral compass.
How does the narrator describe Gatsby’s personality? He briefly mentions the hero of his story, Gatsby, saying that Gatsby represented everything he scorns, but that he exempts Gatsby completely from his usual judgments. Gatsby’s personality was nothing short of “gorgeous.”
Explain the significance of how Nick’s family got their money. His grandfather’s brother who sent someone to go to the civil war and started the wholesale ware house.
Describe Nick’s house. Nick’s home is small and located on the island of West Egg. It is “squeezed between” two large mansions. Many consider the house to be an “eye-sore” that’s been neglected and overlooked.
Describe the Gatsby’s house. Gatsby’s house is also sort of like him. It is big and fancy, but somewhat lonely and empty. He is rich and has made it big. But, at the same time, he is lonely. He really wants Daisy and doesn’t care much about anyone else. The makes him, to me, seem empty.
Of the two “Eggs,” which is the “least fashionable” and which is more fashionable? The West Egg is the least fashionable of the two.
How does Nick know Daisy and Tom? Nick knows Daisy because they are cousins. Nick knew Tom when they were both in college together at Yale. They also spent some time together in Chicago right after the end of World War I, but he had already known them from before.
Describe the Buchanan’s house. A big mansion that had been used from generation to generation. Right on the water, old money.
Describe Tom Buchanan. Daisy’s 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 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.
Describe Daisy. Daisy is a beautiful young woman from Louisville, Kentucky. She is Nick’s cousin and the object of Gatsby’s love. As a young debutante in Louisville, Daisy was extremely popular among the military officers stationed near her home, including Jay Gatsby. Daisy is in love with money, ease, and material luxury. She is capable of affection, but not of sustained loyalty or care. She is indifferent even to her own infant daughter, never discussing her and treating her as an afterthought when she was introduce in Chapter 7. Daisy represents the amoral values of the aristocratic East Egg set.
Why is it said Daisy murmurs? Daisy in her actions is very flirtatious, having mastered the art of making men feel special and drawing them in close to her through her murmurs.
To what is Daisy’s voice compared? Daisy’s voice has a seductive and alluring quality. Daisy’s voice makes her sound untouchable. Nick thinks of it as “full of money” and that it sounds like it belongs to someone who lives “high in a white palace, the king’s daughter, the golden girl, the prom queen, the sorority president, the pageant winner: exactly the kind of girl that neither Gatsby nor Nick would ever have a chance with.
How does Tom talk to Daisy? Controlling and demanding. Like she needs to listen to him all the time and do what he says. Also kinda smart rude way.
How does Daisy talk to Tom? Like she doesn’t care, ignoring.
Describe the relationship between Nick and Daisy. The two do not know each other well as the novel opens but they re-connect in the early chapters of the narrative.
What did Miss Baker reveal to Nick about Tom? That Tom has a mistress in the city.
How does Daisy initially react to the first phone call? At first, when Tom is called away, Daisy ignores it, only seeming to react as the call had “quickened something within her.”
Explain the significance of Jordan’s statement “she might have the decency not to telephone him at dinner-time. Don’t you think?” Jordan thinks that she should have the respect to not call him at dinner time, when he is eating with Daisy.
How does Daisy react to the second phone call? After calling Nick “a rose” and saying it was a delight to have him there, she gets up from the table and goes into the house. When she comes back with Tom, Daisy babbles a bit about how “romantic” the evening is. She is obviously rattles by the phone call, but tries to play it off in high spirits. The rest of the dinner is tense and mostly quiet.
What does Daisy say she hopes her daughter will be? She hopes her daughter will be a beautiful fool.
Explain why. She was trying to imply that the life of a woman is a happier one in ignorance. If he daughter is a “fool” then she will never have to suffer the harsh realities of the real world.
Tom talks about Jordan Baker and states, “She’s a nice girl.. They oughtn’t to let her run around the country this way” Why is this statement hypocritical? The statement is hyporcritical because he is having an affair and kinda running around and doing whatever he wants to do, and he is married and Jordan is not.
How do Daisy and Jordan know each other? Through golfing.
As Nick drives home, what does he think Daisy should do? Nick thinks Daisy definately shoudn’t ignore the phone calls and should find out what is going on.
Why is Nick confused and disgusted when he thinks about Tom and Daisy’s relationship? He is shocked by Tom’s behavior, but he is also shocked and confused by Daisy’s reaction to Tom’s infidelity.
When Nick notices Gatsby, what does he assume Gatsby has come out to determine? He notices he is not alone; a man has stepped outside Gatsby’s mansion, and Nick assumes that it is Gatsby himself. Nick starts to call out to him but reconsiders because he intuits that Gatsby is “content to be alone.” Nick watches as Gatsby extends his arms toward the bay that seperates his house from Tom and Daisy’s. Nick feels sure Gatsby is trembling. Nick looks in the direction of Gatsby’s gaze and see’s a green light that he thinks might be at the end of the dock. When Nick’s gaze returns to where Gatsby was standing, he has disappeared.
With that assumption, what judgement does Nick make about Gatsby? He is positive, kind man, who seems to see the best in people. Very careful with his language – speaks elegantly and seems supportive.
Why doesn’t Nick approach Gatsby and introduce himself? He is intimidated by him, knowing Gatsby has money and doesn’t have much.
At what is Gatsby looking at? When he is standing at the end of the dock, he is looking at Daisy’s house, across the bay.
Notice how many times Fitzgerald uses the word hope, or dream. Why does he do this? One of the main themes in the novel is the meaning of someones “dream” or the American dream as a whole. In the book, people’s dreams and hopes become distorted into a certain opinion of what a dream is and that is what in the end, destroys them.
Describe Nick. What facts do you know about him, and what do you infer about him? What kind of a narrator will he be? Nick comes from a prominent family and is fairly smart for he graduated from Yale. He seems to be a kind, non-judgmental person. I think he will tell the story honestly and from a justified point of view.
What is the “valley of ashes”? Valley of Ashes represents absolute poverty and hopelessness. A farm where ashes grow like where into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens.
What are the “eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg” literally? Eyes on a billboard and figuratively witness to the comings and goings and the deeds of those who pass throught the Valley of Ashes.
What do they symbolize? The loss of spiritual values in America.
Why does Nick go with Tom even though he has no desire to his girl? Tom is convincing and overbearing. He cajoles Nick to go to New York. I think Tom wants another man there to share the “fun”. Tom also believes Nick will somehow vouchsafe his credibility in Daisy’s eyes.
Describe Myrtle. Myrtle herself possesses a fierce vitality and desperately looks for a way to improve her life. She is harsh, calculating, and enticing. And her mannerism, dress, and speech all reflect these aspects of her character.
How does Mrs. Wilson treat her husband? She is very bossy towards him and doesn’t appreciate him. She has an affair, and she doesn’t love him.
What do the things Mrs. Wilson buys and her selection of the cab show about her? That she wants to be rich and have nice things and be able to buy about anything she wants.
How does Mrs. Wilson view their apartment? That is is nice because it is nicer than her actual apartment.
Throughout this chapter, list 3 things that contrast Myrtle and Daisy besides their physical appearance? Both women carry on affairs, and are desperately unhappy with their personal lives. Tom Buchanan also abuses both women in one way or another. The women’s standing in society are also vastly different. Myrtle’s husband runs an automotive repair shop and station, while Tom is a trust fund baby. He comes from great wealth and a high class family, which is alluring to both Myrtle and Daisy.
Why does Nick refer to Myrtle’s dress as a costume? The word “costume” is central to the analysis, showing us that while Myrtle may don a costume that changes her personality, she is still from the Valley of Ashes and not part of Nick and Tom’s world of wealth.
How does Tom feel about the people in the apartment? Tom doesn’t want them there because he feels that is better than them and has more money.
What is the first rumor we hear about Gatsby? That he killed a man.
Catherine confides Nick, “Neither of them can stand the person they’re married to… What I say is, why go on living with them if they can’t stand them. If I was them I’d get a divorce and get married to each other right away.” What does this statement show about Catherine? This shows that Catherine is sorta selfish and also is hungry for money.
Why would Tom lie to Myrtle about Daisy being Catholic, preventing their divorce? Because Myrtle knows that she will never find what she wants in her husband, George, and she thinks that Tom will leave Daisy one day. But Tom has no intention of leaving Daisy for Myrtle. He is just using Myrtle. So he said that Daisy was Catholic and doesn’t believe in the divorce so she can stop talking about the whole marriage thing with him.
What reason does Myrtle give for marrying George Wilson? “I married him because I thought he was a gentleman…I thought he knew something about breeding but he wasn’t fit to lick my shoe.”
What can the reader assume was the reason George Wilson borrowed a suit to get married in and what does that show about George? That he doesn’t have a lot of money to go rent one or buy one and he doesn’t have nice clothing.
How does Myrtle see this action? He didn’t even tell her. And when she found out about it she says, “The only crazy I was was when I married him. I knew right away I made a mistake. He borrowed somebody’s best suit to get married in and never even told me about it, and the man came after it one day when he was out.”
What does her marriage to George say about where she places value? When they got married Mr. Wilson borrowed a suit from a friend to get married in. Myrtle doesn’t value the old, she values the new, she values money and riches and being at the top. When she found out he’d borrowed the suit she lied down and cried all afternoon. She’s highly materialistic; a gold-digger.
How does Myrtle view the day she met Tom? She was so excited because she had met a rich guy, that she thought she could escape her life with George.
What causes Tom and Myrtle to fight around midnight? Myrtle shouting out Daisy’s name; Tom says she has no right to say Daisy’s name
Why does Tom “break her nose with his open hand”? Because he told her to stop talking about Daisy, his wife. When Myrtle continues to say her name, Tom backhands her, breaking her nose. This shows that Tom has a short temper and also that he basically has no real love for either woman, Daisy or Myrtle.
How does that relate to what we learn in Chapter 1 between Daisy and Tom, and her bruise finger? That Tom is abusive to both of the woman.
How does the get-together in the New York apartment highlight the theme of the American Dream? In this apartment, average people who are working to raise their station in life meet together and talk as if they are wealthy, carefree people. They complain of their situation, they talk idle of vacation, and they gossip of others. Rather than bringing out the best in people as they work to improve themselves, Fitzgerald shows the superficiality and shallowness of this time.
Why does Nick give the reader a description of Gatsby’s parties before he attends one? So they know what they are like, and why everyone goes.
How do people get into Gatsby’s parties? They just come.
Why does Gatsby serve the oldest and most expensive liquor at his parties even though his guests wouldn’t know the difference? Because he likes to make people think good of him. And it’s illegal and that is how he makes him money.
Do all of the party goers know Gatsby? No they do not, some don’t even know what he looks like.
How do they act once they’re there? They drink and basically do whatever they want. They don’t care how they behave or what damage they do.
Nick has lived next to Gatsby for months. Why hasn’t Nick attended one of his parties before now? Because he always thought you needed a invite and he didn’t personally know Gatsby, plus he always wanted to observe things before you did something.
What does your answer to #6 tell us about Nick? That he is respectful and cares what Gatsby will think of him. And he wants to know what it is like before he goes so you know what it will be like and know what to wear.
Gatsby states “the honor would be entirely” his if Nick attended his “little party.” What does this say about Gatsby and his character? Gatsby was humble.
What is the first thing Nick does when he gets to the party? He tries to find Gatsby.
Who is the only person Nick recongnizes? Jordan Baker
What happened to Lucille’s dress at the last party she attended at Gatsby’s house? Her dressed ripped.
What does Gatsby do for her? He sent her a new one.
What does this show about Gatsby? That he wants people to like him and he wants people to think good of him.
Why are they suspicious of Gatsby’s behavior? Because he does not drink and he stays away from most people at the party.
What rumors do Nick and Jordan hear as they sit with the 2 girls in yellow and the 3 Mr. Mumbles? That Gatsby has killed a man, and that Gatsby once replaced a party goers torn evening dress with one that was worth even more than the one she damaged.
Why do they accept these rumors so readily? Because how everyone is so suspicious of him.
Why is Jordan’s date there with her? Because he doesn’t want Nick and Jordan to do anything they shouldn’t do.
Who do Jordan and Nick meet in the library? Because they don’t want anyone to see them and they are trying to find Gatsby.
About what is this man most surprised? Jordan Baker and the fact that the books are real.
What did he think they would be? Cardboard books
What does his astonishment say about the society of that time?
Why does he call Gatsby a “regular Belasco”? The guy calls Gatsby a “regular Belasco,” referring to David Belasco, a theater producer known for his super realistic sets. (Yeah, the owl-eyed man is calling Gatsby’s house a set.)
Fitzgerald uses satire in party scene (at the bottom of page 46). What harsh social criticism does he offer about the people and life in the Jazz Age?
What is Nick’s impression of these people? That they are careless crazy people. And they don’t care about how they act and what damage they do to Gatsby’s property.
What is different about Nick’s conversation with the man at his table as opposed to other conversations at the party?
Why does Gatsby think he is “not a very good host”? Because Daisy hasn’t came so he thinks that people aren’t telling anyone about his parties so Daisy must not have heard about it.
What does that say about Gatsby? He always wants more of himself and wants people to love his parties and always come and be big.
Describe Gatsby’s smile. Gatsby’s smile has the qualities of understanding and reassurance. “He smiled understandingly, much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of enternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced or seemed to face the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on YOU with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”
What does Gatsby continually call Nick? Gatsby calls Nick “old sport” as a term of edearment.
From where does Gatsby receive a phone call around midnight? Philadelphia
Where does Jordan say Gatsby went to school?
When asked why she doesn’t believe he went there, Jordan says she doesn’t know, she just doesn’t think he went there. Nick offers a reason for why, but Jordan can’t. Why not?
Why is Nick suspicious of his background? Because it doesn’t add up. And they way he comes off is suspicious. And just they way he acts and carries himself in general.
Jordan explians that she likes large parties as opposed to smaller ones because they are more intimate. How is that statement ironic?
As Gatsby stands alone on the marble steps, what is different about him as opposed to other people at his party?
At 2 o’clock a.m., who does Gatsby ask to speak with alone
Describe the 4 types of different “drunks” Nick observes and what they are doing.
How long is Jordan and Gatsby’s private conversation? Not very long. Because they get interrupted by Jordan’s date.
From where does Gatsby receive a phone call around 3 a.m.?
As Nick walks home, he observes a wreck. Who is involved? The man he met in the library.
What has happened to the car and why?
How does Gatsby’s house symbolize Gatsby himself?
How did Nick spend most of his days? He spends most of his days at Gatsby’s parties.
Who did Nick find again in midsummer? Jordan Baker
How does Nick describe what he begins to feel Jordan? Curiosity
What causes Nick to remember the story about Jordan’s past?
What was the scandal in which Jordan was involved? Golf tournament she moved her ball from a bad lie in semi-final round.
How does Nick drescribe Jordan’s driving?
What does her driving ability reflect about her character?
What does Nick feel he has to “untangle” back home before anything can happen between Jordan and himself? Break up with the girl he has back home.
Nick doesn’t “untangle” the situation back home when he dates the girl from accounting. What makes his relationship with Jordan and the girl back home different?
What does Nick define as one of his cardinal virtues? “I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.” Honesty.
What has Nick done us in the past 3 chapters that proves he is correct in his assumption of himself? He is tolerant and reserve judgement.Tricky to observe and understand. An unreliable narrator.
What are the women in Gatsby’s garden doing on Sunday morning when the church bells are ringing?
What might this say about their morality and society at this time?
What is the next piece of gossip we hear about Gatsby?
As what does Mr. Klipspringer become known? Why?
How does Nick feel about the people who attend Gatsby’s party?
Gatsby’s car is something to admire. Of what might his car be symbolic?
What exactly, does Gatsby reveal to Nick about himself?
What habits of Gatsby’s speaking make Nick believe he may be lying about his past?
Why was Gatsby glad that the war had come?
What proof does Gatsby offer Nick that to prove that his story is true?
Why does Gatsby want Nick to know all of his information?
What does the white card from the commissioner tell us about Gatsby?
Where do Gatsby and Nick have lunch?
Whom does Nick meet at lunch with Gatsby?
Describe him?
What do you infer Mr. Wolfshiem to be involved in based on his fragmented conversation with Gatsby?
Juxtaposition is when two episodes, characters, remarks that seem completely unrelated are placed together in order to draw attention to them. Wolfshiem juxtaposes his story of the deaths of five men involved in the death of his friend with his statement “I understand you’re looking for a business connection”. What is juxtaposition here?
What could this suggest about Gatsby’s tie to Wolfshiem?
What is ironic about Gatsby’s statement that “Miss Baker’s a great sportswoman.. and she’d never do anything that wasn’t all right”?
Explain the irony in the fact that a man like Meyer Wolfshiem says that Gatsby is “a perfect gentlemen” and “a man of fine breeding”.
From what are Mr. Wolfshiem’s cuff buttons made?
What is the juxtaposition in the cuff buttons and Wolfshiem’s comment of “Yeah, Gatsby’s very careful about women. He would never so much as look at a friend’s wife”?
What occupation does Gatsby attribute to Wolfshiem?
What scandal does Gatsby link to Wolfshiem?
What about Gatsby’s statement that Wolfshiem “just saw the opportunity” and “they can’t get him… he’s a smart man” shows how Gatsby, as well as society at the time, views illegal activity?
Describe Gatsby’s face when he meets Tom.
What story does Jordan tell Nick?
Daisy’s maiden name (Fay) symbolizes her free spirit. What color do we seem to most often associate with Daisy?
What does the color white symbolize?
Who is Daisy with that Jordan meets for the first time in 1917?
Give one piece of textual evidence that proves how these 2 people feel about each other.
Explain your textual evidence.
What rumor circulates about Daisy in 1917?
What two items are in Daisy’s hands, as she lies drunk on her bed a half an hour before her bridal dinner?
Where are the $350,000 pearls she received from Tom?
Based on what you have learned about the events in 1917, from whom might this letter be?
What does Daisy do with the letter?
Explain how Daisy feels about the letter as opposed to the pearls.
Why does Daisy seem so in love with Tom after their honeymoon?
Just a week after their 3 month honeymoon, what scandal arises involving Tom?
What do we learn from this information?
What is Gatsby’s reason for purchasing his house in West Egg?
What then, in addition to the green light, was Gatsby reaching out to and trembling for at the end of the Chapter 1?
What does Gatsby want Nick to arrange for him?
Going back to the luncheon with Nick, why does Gatsby act the way he does when he first meets Tom?
Why is it important that Daisy and Gatsby reunite at Nick’s home and not elsewhere?
Why doesn’t Gatsby want Daisy to know about the meeting and for it to appear as if it’s just a coincidence?
What symbolic value does Daisy (who is the culmination of all his dreams) hold for Gatsby?
Gatsby says that he is “glancing in to some of the rooms” at two in the morning. What is his real intention?
What does Gatsby suggest in order to try to help Nick with his financial state?
Although inappropriate, why does Gatsby make this offer?
What is the first verbal admission that Gatsby’s business might be illegal?
List at least 4 things that have alluded to this illegal business in Chapters 1-4.
CHAPTER 6!!!!!
By waiting to reveal Gatsby’s background at this point in the story, Fitzgerald accomplishes 3 things. What are they? When Gatsby first told Nick his past in chapter four, his stories were completely false. They were all created so that he would gain Nick’s approval. Fitzgerald decides to reveal the truth about Gatsby’s past now because of all the events occurring at this point. Fitzgerald probably wanted the reader to be clear on Gatsby’s past so that the reader can better understand the ideas that are conveyed by this story.
In worldly sense, what makes Gatsby “great”?
What is Gatsby’s legal name? James Gatz
Where is he from? North Dakota
At what age did Gatsby change his name? Seventeen
Who created Jay Gatsby? F. Scott Fitzgerald
What was James Gatz not able to accept about his parents and why?
How did Dan Cody get his millions?
What does Dan Cody’s yacht represent to Gatz?
How was Gatsby a “jailor” so to speak for Cody?
Why does Gatsby drink so little?
Why doesn’t Gatsby get the $25,000 Cody left him?
Instead of the money, what does he receive from Cody? Explain.
While Tom and his two old money friends stop in at Gatsby’s, why does Gatsby reveal to Tom that he “knows his wife”?
Why does Gatsby want to see more of Tom?
Who understands that the woman’s invitation to her dinner party is a drunk, rhetorical one and who doesn’t? Explain why or why not for each character.
Tom is a “walking contraction” when he states, “By God, I may be old-fashion in my ideas but women run around too much these days to suit me. They meet all kinds of crazy fish.” What does he mean by this statement?
Why is it a contradiction? Explain in depth.
During the course of the visit at Gatsby’s house, what 4 valuable messages do we learn about the elite “old” money and Gatsby?
Describe the 2 reasons why this party feels different for Nick as opposed to Gatsby’s other parties he has attended throughout the summer?
What adjective does Fitzgerald use to describe Tom’s eyes?
Why hasn’t Nick ever seen Gatsby dance before?
Why do we never see a scene of Gatsby and Daisy’s affair?
What does Tom imagine is the source of Gatsby’s wealth?
Why is he determined to find out the source of his wealth?
According to Gatsby, what is Daisy’s opinion of his party?
How does this affect him?
What does Nick believe Gatsby wants Daisy to do?
Explain why that would be different than if Daisy just left her husband.
What advice does Nick give Gatsby about the past?
What is Gatsby’s response to this?
Why does Gatsby react this way to Nick’s statement?
In what night is Gatsby trapped forever?
In his mind, what did Daisy and Gatsby become that night?
How doe we see Nick’s coming to understand the totality of Gatsby’s vision, memories, and dreams?

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