The Great Gatsby Reading Guide

How does Nick describe himself at the beginning of the novel? Nick begins the story by telling us that he does not pass judgment on people.
How does Nick describe Tom Buchanan? Nick describes Tom as enormously wealthy, violent, forceful, aggressive, sturdy, supercilious, arrogant, aggressive, and cruel
Who is Jordan Baker? Jordan is described as the “balancing girl” – the girl Nick originally thought was snobbish but later came to like for her confident air.
What is Gatsby doing when Nick first sees him? Gatsby’s reaching out towards something, staring at a green light across the water which Nick says could come from a light at the end of a dock
Describe the ambiguity in Nick’s initial descriptions of Gatsby. Nick’s initial encounter with Gatsby is made at a distance.
How does the tone of Nick’s description of Tom reveal Nick’s feelings about Tom? Nick isn’t very fond of Tom. He sees him as dangerous, violent, threatening, and pompous in a way
How would you describe Daisy’s state of mind during dinner? What does she sayand so that helps reveal her inner conflicts? Daisy seems flighty and struggling for attention at the beginning of the dinner, however there’s a painful awkwardness that sets in after the phone call when she and Tom disappear into the house.
Nick thinks that, given the state of their marriage, Daisy should leave Tom, but it isclear to him that she has no intention of doing so. What indication is there thatTom and Daisy are closely linked despite their marital difficulties? Tom and Daisy seem to be pretty set in their ways. They’re both used to money and attention. Both are a part of the advanced, sophisticated, elite crowd which views the world in a scorned, cynical way.
What indications are there that the green light will have a powerful emotionalsignificance to Gatsby? Gatsby is so near and yet so far away from a green light. He is stretching out his arms toward an elusive goal that he cannot quite reach
How does Nick meet Tom’s mistress? Tom takes Nick into the city and on the way there stops off at her house/her husband’s garage to meet her. They then go into the city and have a party at the apartment Tom rents for Myrtle and their indiscretions
How does Myrtle react to Tom’s arrival? Myrtle seems exuberant and vivacious. She walks sensually down the stairs; she’s full of life and very sexual and she makes passionate eye contact with Tom. She was clearly awaiting his arrival.
Describe George Wilson. How does he react to Tom’s arrival? George has blond hair and light blue eyes; he is spiritless, anemic (lacking power, vigor, vitality, or colorfulness; listless; weak), and only faintly handsome. He seems hopeful for something that Tom may bring (we’re led to believe it has something to do with a car that Tom was going to sell him).
How does Myrtle behave as the party progresses? Myrtle is no longer as full of life (vitality) as she was when he first met her. Now she’s displaying a hauteur which is growing more and more over the night, displaying a fake superiority which she has no right to claim
Describe the setting of the valley of ashes where George and Myrtle live. Whataspects of the setting imply that it is intended to have a symbolic meaning as wellas a literal one? Desolate; full of ashes, strange gardens, and smoke; dim and crumbling; full of people more like ghosts than men; gray, cloudy, obscure, and bleak. Fitzgerald takes a lot of time to describe this setting in a detailed and poetic way. He focuses on the specifics of this area which is just a setting but must play a larger role in the story than just that if he’s devoting this much time to its detailed description
How does Fitzgerald describe Myrtle Wilson? Does her physical appearancereflect her character in any way? Myrtle is described as a thick, stout, sensuous woman in her mid thirties; she’s no real beauty but she has a smoldering vitality. The passion and liveliness of her body over any other characteristics shows she’s controlled by her bodily impulses.
Compare the setting of the party in this chapter with the setting of the party in Chapter One. The apartment party is raucous, smoky, and loud. The earlier dinner party was quiet, reserved, and all tension amongst the characters was under the surface
Why does Tom attach Myrtle at the end of the party? How does this exemplify Fitzgerald’s description of Tom in Chapter One? She says Daisy’s name. To assert his power and contempt over Myrtle; he does it simply because he can. It shows him as a violent man (which Nick’s tone described).
Describe the two ways in which Nick differs from the other guests at Gatsby’s party. Nick is actually invited to the party; everyone else just shows up. Nick is dressed more casually in white flannels and everyone else is in elegant suits and gowns.
What does Nick think of Gatsby when he first meets him? Nick is impressed with Gatsby’s smile. It seems so genuine and reassuring. Nick thinks Gatsby’s formality of speech and actions are almost to a level of absurdity
Describe the events and atmosphere of the party There is extreme decadence and luxury: there are huge bands, lots of food (two dinners), flowing cocktails, etc. Everyone is dancing and enjoying themselves. As the night goes on, women become flirtier and begin playing with the men more and enjoying themselves
What does the owl-eyed man in the library find extraordinary about Gatsby’slibrary? The owl-eyed man discovers that the books have not been ‘cut’. The books are there to show us, hopefully to make us believe, that Gatsby is well-read, educated, and wealthy
What does Nick learn about Jordan Baker after he has sent some time with her? Nick learns that he is very attracted to Jordan Baker BUT Jordan is extremely cynical, with a masculine, icy demeanor that Nick initially finds compelling
Why does Fitzgerald describe the party (in the passage beginning “By seveno’clock the orchestra has arrived”) in the present tense? The effect of describing one of Gatsby’s parties in the present tense is to create the impression that the same thing is happening over and over.
How does Nick characterize the guests at Gatsby’s party? What do hischaracterizations tell us about how Nick feels about most of these people? Whatsense of life in the Jazz Age do we get from the description of this party? Nick becomes an observer rather than an active participant. Nick is repulsed by the shallow superficiality of the people at the party. THe people have no other interest other than money and the illusion of happiness rather than happiness itself.
Describe the ambiguity in Gatsby’s character that strikes Nick. Nick has always been impressed by Gatsby’s confidence yet, as he examines Gatsby further, he big gins to see this confidence as superficial.
Describe two incidents involving automobiles in this chapter. What role doautomobiles seem to play in the novel so far? In this novel, cars are a symbol of the attitudes of the rich. Practically everyone in the story is a bad driver, especially the rich people. They do not seem to care about anything — their lives are empty. This is symbolized by their driving.
What does Gatsby tell Nick about himself? He’s from the Midwest and comes from a wealthy family. He attended Oxford because it was a family tradition
What accomplishments of Meyer Wolfshiem’s does Gatsby describe to Nick?How does Nick react? At lunch, Gatsby introduces Carraway to Meyer Wolfsheim, a disreputable character who proudly calls their attention to his cufflinks, which are made from human molars. Wolfsheim is an infamous gambler, and claims responsibility for fixing the 1919 World Series
According to Jordan, what did Daisy do on her wedding way? Why? She received a letter from someone and got completely drunk.
Why does Gatsby want to have tea with Daisy in Nick’s house? Why doesn’tGatsby ask Nick for this favor himself? He loves Daisy and wants to see her. The reason he wants to do it specifically at Nick’s house is because Nick lives next door to Gatsby, so this would make for an easy setup for her to see his great big house and come over to his place.
What does tom do when he and Daisy return from their honeymoon? He starts having an affair and gets caught when he wrecks his automobile and his mistress breaks her arm. To make matters worse, the story ends up all over the newspapers
Aside from the improbability of his story, what other evidence is there that Gatsbyis lying when he tells Nick about his background? The mechanical nature of the way Gatsby always says “Old sport”, and never seems to have anything to talk about
What does Gatsby’s friendship with Meyer Wolfshiem imply about his ownbackground? Gatsby appears “shady” by connection. Wolfsheim is clearly doing some dirty business
How does Daisy behave after Gatsby goes overseas? What does her behaviorshow about her feelings for Gatsby? Daisy decided to marry Tom shortly after Gatsby left for the war. When she received a letter from him, she drank herself into a stupor before her wedding…… she loved him, but her feelings were fickle.
After Jordan tells Nick the story of Gatsby and Daisy, Nick says that Gatsby”came alive to me, delivered suddenly from the womb of his purposeless splendor.” How does the metaphor of birth help explain what Gatsby’s behavior had meant to Nick up to then? It would seem, from Jordan’s story, that Gatsby was born in an instant. It was as if Gatsby had no past, no childhood. Gatsby had re-created himself in the years following the war
With Jordan in his arms, Nick thinks of a phrase: “There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.” How do you think this phrase reflects on the events of the novel so far? Do you think that Gatsby would agree with the phrase? I think the phrase suits Gatsby just fine. Gatsby’s parties seem like a singles mingle free for all even though most of the couples are married. Gatsby watches from afar, immune to the pursuits. This however is not totally true because he has always been pursuing Daisy .
What does Gatsby offer Nick in return for Nick’s cooperation in inviting Daisy to his house? Gatsby, aware that Nick may be in a tough financial situation, offers to “set him up in business” so that he can make some money
What is the meeting between Gatsby and Daisy like initially? initially, their conversation is stilted and awkward. They are all inexplicably embarrassed; when Gatsby clumsily knocks over a clock, Nick tells him that he’s behaving like a little boy. Nick leaves the couple alone for a few minutes. When he returns, they seem luminously happy, as though they have just concluded an embrace. There are tears of happiness on Daisy’s cheeks.”
How are Daisy and Gatsby different when Nick returns to the house after a halfan hour? When Nick returns after giving Gatsby and Daisy 30 minutes to themselves, Daisy’s face is tear-stained and Gatsby is glowing. It is clear that the two of them have shared some deep emotions and that Gatsby, at least on one level, believes his dream is slowly becoming reality.
What are Gatsby’s feelings by the end of the chapter? Gatsby is blissfully happy and hopeful
What does Gatsby reply when Nick asks him how he makes his money? Why does Nick find that significant? He says it is his private affairs. That’s pretty poignant, since it directly avoids the question. The only reasons that Gatsby would not answer is if his business is illegal.
What is Gatsby’s dialogue like in this chapter? What does it tell us about Gatsby? His dialigue is awkward, nothing like the confidant man we think he is up to this point. In this chapter we see a quiet, unsure, and secretive
Why do you think Daisy sobs when Gatsby shows her his shirts? Gatsby overwhelms her with these tangible signs of his affection and when he takes his shirts, ordered from England, out of his cabinet and throws them on the bed- symbolize
What is the weather like in this chapter? How does it reflect on the emotionalclimate of Gatsby and Daisy? In this chapter, there is very heavy rain during the first part of the meeting between Daisy and Gatsby. Then, after about half an hour, the sun comes out. I think this is sort of a metaphor for the way things are going between the two of them.
In this chapter, Gatsby’s dream seems to be fulfilled. What indications are there,though, that reality cannot satisfy his dream? Nick describes a moment between the Gatsby and Daisy where they both seem to be completely happy and lost in the moment. He also sees that the real Daisy can’t live up to the “status” she’s been given in Gatsby memory. Nick knows that Daisy will never be the woman Gatsby has wanted all the years because he’s made he so big and so perfect in his mind. The passion and love of the dream will not long extend itself to the reality.
When does James Gatz change his name? Why? Gatsby was out warning the rich folk to get their boats off the lake because a storm was coming in… and when asked his name he said it was Gatz rather than Gatsby. He wanted to sound like one of the crowd or possibly disassociate himself from his poor family.
What is Daisy’s real response to the party, according to Nick? Nick said Daisy was “offended” by party,”because it wasn’t a gesture but an emotion
What does Gatsby tell Nick he wants Daisy to do? He tells Nick he wants Daisy to leave Tom.
Plato held that reality was an imperfect reflection of an ideal, permanent realm.With this in mind, what would you say Nick means when he says that “Jay Gatsbysprang from his Platonic conception of himself?” Nick believed that Gatsby modeled himself on an idealized version of who Jay Gatsby really was.
How is the comparison of Gatsby with Christ (“he was a son of G-d… and hemust be about His Father’s Business”) ironic? If the comparison with Christ were tocontinue through the book, what would happen to Gatsby? Jesus was always about his Father’s busuiness, and his father was always aware of what he was doing…… it was always the right thing. Gatsby, on the other hand, had turned his back on his father, who knew nothing of his actions. Had he continued, he’d be disowned.
Tom, Mr. Sloane, and a young lady visit Gatsby and the lady invites Gatsby tocome to dinner with them. What does Gatsby’s response tell us about his social sensitivity? What connection, if any, do you think this scene might have with Gatsby’s love of Daisy? Gatsby is not a good reader of people or their intentions. He doesn’t get the hint… several hints, and it shows.
What is Gatsby’s view of the past? When Nick says that Gatsby “wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy,” what do you think he means? Gatsby wants evrything he has idealized since he and Daisy last parted. He wants the past to disappear…… no Tom, no money, no nothing……. just the two of them the way he thought it would be.
At the end of the chapter, Nick describes Gatsby kissing Daisy in Louisville five years before. What is Gatsby giving up when he kisses her? Why? Hes giving up the illusion…… it was a good dream, but the girl he’d been pining for had only existed in a memory.
Why does Gatsby stop giving parties? Gatsby wants to be alone with Daisy. This is what he has always wanted
When does Tom first realize that Daisy loves Gatsby? They discuss going into town and Tom notices the passionate gaze Gatsby gives towards his wife. Things really fall apart when Tom receives confirmation of his suspicions.
Why is Myrtle Wilson upset when she sees Tom and Jordan? While Jordan and Tom stop for gas at the Wilson’s gas store, Myrtle mistakes Jordan for Daisy. Myrtle was notoriously jealous of Daisy.
Why does George Wilson lock Myrtle in the bedroom? Wilson has clued into the fact that his Myrtle is having an fair. This is why he locks her in the room. George plans on letting her out in a few days and leaving with her.
How does Gatsby characterize Daisy’s voice? What do you think he means bythis? Gatsby says that Daisy’s voice is full of money because Daisy has always lived a life of privilege, and always will.
Why does Gatsby lose Daisy during the confirmation at the Plaza? Could hehave done anything to win her, do you think? If he could have, why doesn’t he? For all Gatsby’s romantic illusions about Daisy, she is pretty superficial. Tom fills Daisy in about how Gatsby got his money through shady crime deals. Daisy seems to lose interest in Gatsby.
Why does Tom insist that Daisy go home with Gatsby? What do you think this tellsus about Tom’s character and his relationship with Daisy? There has just been a huge argument after Gatsby attempts to get Daisy to deny her love for Tom. Daisy backs away and Gatsby is defatted. As to rub both their noses in this humiliation, Tom tells Daisy to return with Gatsby.
What indications are there are the end of the chapter that Tom and Daisy aregoing to stay together despite his philandering and her love for Gatsby? The filthy rich didn’t get divorces, they just cheated a lot. Daisy is a very sad character. She is used to the bullying from Tom and expects it in her life. She doesn’t know how to handle a loving relationship. Gatsby is also rather desperate for Daisy the illusion. The real Daisy is much to vapid to end up with Gatsby.
At the end of the chapter, Gatsby is standing alone, looking out at Daisy’shouse. Where else in the novel does he do this? How is this different? The scene is reminiscent of the first time Nick had seen Gatsby. Gatsby is staring over the water into the green light,
What does Gatsby tell Nick the night of the accident? Why? Gatsby, in his misery, tells Nick the story of his first meeting with Daisy. He does so even though it patently gives the lie to his earlier account of his past
Did Gatsby want to go to Oxford? No, he really wanted to go back to Daisy. He was sent to Oxford by some clerical error, so it seemed.
How does George Wilson spend the night after the accident? begin with George, “rocked himself back and forth on the couch inside.” After a suitable period of emotional meltdown George begins to figure out how he can hunt down the car. George begins to plot revenge
What evidence had Wilson found that his wife was having an affair? Wilson shows Michael a dog leash (that Tom gave her) he found on their bureau. Wilson makes figures out that something is up because they don’t have a dog.
What would you day is the principal reason for Daisy’s appeal to Gatsby? Aside from Daisy being attractive I would say that Gatsby is in love with the idea of Daisy rather than Daisy herself.
How is Nick’s attitude toward Gatsby ambivalent even at the moment when he says goodbye to him? Gatsby is lost in his fantasy. He is lost in the illusion that Daisy will come back to him and they will live a meaningful life.
What do the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg symbolize to George Wilson? What is significant about this symbol? Many critics suggest that the eyes symbolize God looking over a sinful land
How do you think Wilson got Gatsby’s name? Does any evidence in this chapter point to a particular person? Wilson Gets Gatsby’s name from Tom. In Chapter nine, Nick meets up with Tom. Tom says that he told Wilson that the car belonged to Gatsby.Tom claims that if he had not, Wilson would have killed him on the spot.
How does Nick characterize Gatsby’s state of mind before he is killed? Nick is full of illusions about Daisy. He thinks she will be calling him. He refuses to leave even though Nick suggests that he go for his safety. Gatsby wants to stay and take care of Daisy; he is convinced that he will saver her and they will live happily ever after. Gatsby is pretty delusional to say the least.
What is the motive publicly given for Wilson’s murder of Gatsby? It is said that Wilson was a mad man and went crazy.
What does the telephone call from Chicago tell us about Gatsby’s business? The mysterious call tells us that Gatsby was involved with organized crime.
What does Klipspringer want from Nick? How does Nick react to this? He wants to pick up a pair of tennis shoes. Nick is pretty revolted by him and hangs up the phone
Why is Gatsby’s father so proud of him? His father is proud about how far his son had “made it” in life.
What does Tom confess to Nick when they meet that fall? Does he regret whathe has done? Months later, Nick runs into Tom Buchanan on New York’s Fifth Avenue. Tom admits that it was he who sent Wilson to Gatsby’s; he shows no remorse, however, and says that Gatsby deserved to die
Nick says that “this has been a story of the West, after all.” What do you think hemeans by that? I think Nick means to contrast the decadence of the East with the real world of the West. Both he and Gatsby are midwesterners. They go to the East for different reasons but the East seems to corrupt and morally ravage all who enter.
How does Nick characterize Tom and Daisy at the end of the book? What haseach of them “smashed” during the course of the novel? Nick characterizes them as vapid and self-indulgent. There is no substance to them. Both characters have destroyed even the illusion of real love, caring, compassion and humanity. They make Nick sick to his stomach
At the end of the book, Nick imagines what the continent must have been likewhen it was first seen by Dutch sailors. How does this contrast with theenvironment described in the novel? Both “Eggs” in their own ways become a symbol of greed, vapid desire and broken dreams. They are separated by the rotting grey Valley of Ashes. THere is no more hope in Long Island as the Dutch sailors might have once felt; now the lives of people on both sides are just as rotten as the valley.
What does the green light symbolize at the end of the novel? THe colour green is a significant symbol in this novel. We usually see green as growth, money, regeneration…For Gatsby, the green light is different, it makes him “tremble.” The green light reminds him of Daisy. She is an illusion of new beginnings, love, longing and desire
Discuss Nick Carraway’s character. How reliable is he as a narrator? What aspects of his character make him an effective narrator Nick carraway is made the narrator he is a reliable one he tells us that he reserves all his judgments therefore the reader is lead to believe what he is saying is coming from an 3rd person objective point of view. Nick’s history seems to be upper middle class and quite “normal” as opposed to the vapid elite of East Egg. Nick is a pretty credible character.
Why is first-person narrative an effective and appropriate way of telling this story? Nick is a pretty reliable narrator as narrators go. Nick tells us that he reserves all his judgments therefore the reader is lead to believe what he is saying is coming from an 3rd person objective point of view
Discuss the title of the book. In what way is Gatsby “great”? hus, the ironic meaning of the novel’s title can be derived through the analysis of the true greatness of Gatsby: a moral failure who is only a success in the eyes of other downfallen individuals of society.
An epigraph is a quotation at the beginning of a work that reflects on that work.How does the epigraph to The Great Gatsby reflect on Gatsby’s story? An epigraph is a quotation at the beginning of a work that reflects on that work.How does the epigraph to The Great Gatsby reflect on Gatsby’s story?
How does Fitzgerald use Gatsby’s parties to present a satirical portrait of theRoaring Twenties? The noveau riche that populate Gatsby’s parties are the epitome of the vapid pursuit of material wealth. Despite the opulence and grandeur of Gatsby’s legendary swarays, nobody seems particularly happy
Compare and contrast the character of Daisy and Myrtle Wilson Both Daisy and Myrtle are unhappy in their respective marriages. THey each seem to want a different guy (Daisy wants Gatsby and Myrtle wants Tom). Both are lovers of Tom. Daisy is the wife and Myrtle is the mistress. Daisy is wealthier while Myrtle lives in the desolate valley. Daisy is related to Nick while Myrtle is not.
Discuss the relationship between Nick and Jordan Baker. How does it reflect, if atall, on the story of Gatsby and Daisy? There are some similarities although Jordan and Nick are slightly less intense. Both Jordan and Daisy are self-centred opportunists. They seek the most “fun” they can get the quickest way possible. Both Gatsby and Nick and Tom merely facilitate their self indulgences.
Discuss Fitzgerald’s use of the automobile in this novel. What do you think mighthave made the automobile an appealing symbol to Fitzgerald in the early 1920s? Automobiles were a symbol of money. The middle class had them but the filthy rich used them as validation and a symbol of their garish success. THey were large opulent and the people used them irresponsibly.
Contrast the setting of the valley of ashes with that of East Egg and West Egg The Valley of ashes lies between West Egg and New York. It is a desolate place where, “Ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens.” Everything about it is dry, grey and dirty. East Egg by contrast is full of green manicured lawns and palatial mansions. A fresh breeze blows in from the coast and nothing is out of place. West Egg is more middle class but still a much more acceptable place than the Valley.
Describe the gradual revelation of Gatsby’s character. What do we learn abouthim and when? Why is this an appropriate way of learning about him? Gatsby is something of an enigma for the beginning of the novel. It isn’t until Nick and Daisy fit into the scene that Gatsby’s character slowly comes out
Gatsby’s tragedy is that he chooses the wrong dream (Daisy). Has he beencorrupted by society? Or is his choice an indication that he is part of the corruption Gatsby simply buys into the corruption that most of the other characters do. The whole concept of the American Dream, money, Daisy, the parties was rotten before Gatsby decided that he wanted to be a part of it.

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