|The Great Gatsby Study Guide
1. What are the recent events in Nick’s life, which have most vividly affected his personality?
The “Great War” and his time living in the East.
2. How does Nick perceive himself?
As a none judgmental person
3. Describe the Buchanan’s house.
Mansion - beautiful.
4. How does Nick know Daisy and Tom?
He and Daisy are distant cousins.
5. Describe Tom. What is your impression of him?
Athletic, large, rough, racist, snobby, a cheater
6. What kind of person is Daisy?
Sad, beautiful, gossipy, “air-head”, sarcastic
7. How does Nick feel about Daisy and Tom after his first visit with them?
Disgusted, the visit was a little awkward, over-whelmed
8. How does Nick fit into East Egg and West Egg societies?
He left his home town for a new beginning. He does exactly “fit in” because he is not among the “super rich” and he is not an Easterner.
9. How does Fitzgerald introduce the theme of gesture or superficiality?
Through elaborate description of the homes and personalities of Tom and Daisy…. The implied is that they are very stuck on themselves.
10. How much do we know about Gatsby at the end of this chapter?
Very little - he likes to be left alone, and he lives in West Egg.
1. What kind of place must one pass through on the way between East/West Egg and New York City?
An industrial zone called the Valley of Ashes
2. What symbolic significance does the oculist’s billboard play throughout the rest of the novel?
Symbolic of a moral conscience! The idea that “God” is always watching. The fact that it is weathered and beat up is part of the symbolism, suggesting that morals and ethical living are not being preserved.
3. Identify Myrtle and George Wilson.
They live in the Valley of Ashes. They are the working class. George literally gets his hands dirty for a living. They are foils (literary characters that directly contrast each other) to Tom and Daisy.
4. How does the get-together in the New York apartment highlight the theme of the American Dream?
For Myrtle it is an escape from low class to money, luxury, and classy living – the “Dream” of “having it all.”
5. What reason does Myrtle give for marrying George Wilson?
She thought he was a gentlemen (had money) and could supply her with a comfortable life, when in reality, he was poor working class.
6. How is Myrtle contrasted with Daisy?
Myrtle is poor & in working class/aggressive and loud. Daisy is upper class/golden girl, passive/quiet/thin/pretty
7. What does Tom do to Myrtle when she mentions Daisy’s name? Why?
Punch/smacks her. He doesn’t want to be reminded of what he is doing. Power & control
8. Why does Nick agree to go along with Tom to New York to meet Myrtle’s friends?
Tom emphasizes how important is to Myrtle-
1. What symbolic correspondence is Fitzgerald asking us to make between the preparations for Gatsby’s party and the arrival of guests?
2. What kinds of people come to Gatsby’s parties?
Rich, Selfish, indulgent, gossipy, famous people
3. How does Nick meet Gatsby?
Talking to who he thought was a stranger about not meeting the host Gatsby.
4. Is Gatsby a “phony”?
5. What mystique has developed about Gatsby?
He killed a man. German spy.
6. What purposes do the two digressions (Owl-eyes in the library and the car wreck) serve?
It shows us people who have every advantage and opportunity in life being careless with what they have – a general sense of –take it all for granted.
7. What is happening to Nick’s reaction to Jordan Baker? What is their relationship?
He thinks he might be in love with her…. Maybe. She is an untruthful person and a bad driver.
1. What is the common denominator to all the stories about the people who meet at Gatsby’s parties?
People who are using him for his money and wealth
2. Who is Klipspringer?
He stays at Gatsby’s so often, he is nicknamed “the boarder.”
3. What “matter” does Gatsby have Jordan Baker discuss with Nick?
Gatsby asked Jordan to ask Nick to invite Daisy over for tea so that he, Gatsby, can be reunited with her.
4. Who is Wolfsheim? Where does Nick meet him?
In the city, Nick has a lunch with Gatsby and Wolfshiem is there. He is an associate of Gatsby’s, a “mobster,” who fixed the 1919 World Series.
5. What does Wolfsheim tell Nick about Gatsby?
That he is a gentleman of “good breeding,” not the type to go after anybody’s wife or anything. (FORESHADOWING!!!)
6. How does Nick know that Gatsby is lying when he starts his recitation of his life-story?
Gatsby says “educated at Oxford,” just a little too quickly. Nick notices he hurries through the sentence, and it appears as Jordan said, Gatsby isn’t being truthful.
7. What is the essence of Gatsby’s materialistic dream?
He wants DAISY to complete the dream!!!
8. What symbolic value does Daisy hold for Gatsby, and how is it the culmination of all his dreams?
Once he is with Daisy, he will have “made it!” It represents his complete achievement of the American Dream: the money, the material possessions, and the perfect, old-money, upper-class woman!
1. Describe the meeting between Gatsby and Daisy. Why is he so nervous?
Gatsby is nervous because he has waited five years for this moment, to be reunited with her. He is in love with her and has been attaining all his wealth for chance to win her over!
2. How does the Gatsby façade start to fade when he comes over for tea?
He is nervous, shaking, clumsy, tripping over stuff, and completely un-composed.
3. How long did it take Gatsby to make the money to buy the mansion?
4. Why does Gatsby want Daisy to see the house and his clothes?
He wants to show off, proving to her that he can give her anything she wants, fulfill her every want and desire. Thus, Daisy would have no reason to reject him.
5. What is significant about the scene with Gatsby’s shirts?
The shirts are silver, gold, expensive material, symbolizes Gatsby’s wealth and that money is no object; that like the upper class should, he has the best of everything just because he can afford it.
6. What had the green light on the dock meant to Gatsby?
The Green light is a symbol of hope. It literally means “go.” It’s blinking at the end of that dock is representative of how close Gatsby is to fulfilling his dream. He just needs to “go for it” with Daisy.
7. How does Daisy begin to fail Gatsby as a dream-girl?
He realizes now that he is with her again, that the reality of being with her is not as fantastic and perfect as the dream of being with her. Very often our fantasies are much more perfect than the reality of a situation.
1. Why does Nick tell us the story of James Gatz now instead of earlier in the book?
Nick is telling the story in the order in which the events happened and the same order in which he learned information so that we can experience the events as he did.
2. What is Gatsby’s real history? Where is he from?
Jay Gatz from Michagan; poor parents. He wanted to separate himself from that and recreate himself as he wants to be. He was digging clams and “getting by,” using women, living day to day until he met Dan Cody.
3. What did Dan Cody do for Gatsby?
Cody introduced Gatsby to the world of money and fine living. He dressed him, traveled with him and exposed him to how to conduct himself as a man of wealth and power.
4. How did the materialistic vision get its start in Gatsby?
While poor and working along the shore of Lake Superior, he dreamed of a life of grandeur, feeling destined for a life of greatness.
5. What is Daisy’s opinion of Gatsby’s party? How does this affect him?
She doesn’t seem to like it… it seems vulgar to her. She does enjoy the time she is off with Gatsby alone. Gatsby is deeply disappointed she didn’t like his party and he stops having them after that.
6. What does Gatsby mean by his fierce reaction to Nick’s statement about not repeating the past? Gatsby truly believes that if the setting is created, the past can be recaptured: the feelings, the situation, the intensity of moments can be relived. Nick tells him this isn’t true. Gatsby responds strongly that “you certainly can” because his whole reason for all the money and everything he has done for the past 5 years has been riding on that idea that reliving the past is possible.
7. How do we see Nick’s coming to understand the totality of Gatsby’s vision?
Nick realizes that Gatsby is a dreamer. He is a person who is chasing an ideal, that has a level of perfection that doesn’t really exist.
8. What does Gatsby want from Daisy?
He wants her to leave Tom but specifically telling him she never loved him. Her saying that to Tom, in Gatsby’s mind, “undoes” her marriage to him. Gatsby needs to believe that Daisy never wanted anyone but himself. The idea that Daisy loved another man is unbearable to him.
1. Why is Gatsby so disconcerted when he sees the Buchanan child?
It is a reality check!!! The child does not fit into Gatsby’s vision of the ease with which Daisy can simply leave Tom and “cancel” that part of her life. The child is a complication to his dream.
2. How deftly does Fitzgerald handle the mechanics of getting the people to New York?
They have cars and ability. The idea is presented as “something to do,” to relieve awkward tension.
3. What does Wilson do to Myrtle? Why?
He locks her in their apartment. He has become aware that Myrtle is up to something, most likely an affair, and he isn’t going to let her out.
4. What does Gatsby think about Daisy’s relationship with Tom?
He thinks it is a sham, that she married Tom because she tired of waiting for him to return from the war.
5. Why does Gatsby insist that Daisy say she never loved Tom?
Because that is a crucial piece to his vision of he and Daisy being together, that there was never an interruption in their love.
6. What happens on the way home from New York?
Gatsby hits Mrytle and kills her.
7. How does Tom react to the death of Myrtle?
He is shocked and blames Gatsby. He also will not leave Wilson’s garage until he is sure Wilson knows that the big yellow car isn’t his, that is belongs to another man so that Wilson wont’ think Tom himself killed her.
8. Why does Gatsby take the blame about the accident?
He is trying to protect Daisy from Tom.
9. What is ironic about Gatsby’s watching the window for a signal, to make sure that Tom is not abusing Daisy? Daisy and Tom are in the kitchen having beers and eating cold chicken. They are talking intimately and repairing their “relationship.”
10. What is the true relationship between Daisy and Tom by the end of this chapter?
They have “made up,” and their marriage is back in tact.
1. What does Gatsby tell Nick about his past? Is it true?
He tells about the relationship he and Daisy had, the actual time spent together and how he had to go off to war, and Daisy was supposed to wait for him to return. He also let Daisy believe that he [Gatsby] was from the same social class as her. He let her be deceived because he loves her.
2. How satisfactory is Nick’s explanation of Gatsby’s attraction to Daisy?
Very intense and specific.
3. How do you explain Gatsby’s remark that Daisy’s love for Tom was insignificant because it was just “personal”?
Daisy was supposed to love someone like Tom, someone who was from her social class and met her parents’ and society’s expectations.
4. What does Michaelis believe caused Myrtle to run?
5. Why did she run?
She thought Tom was driving that car because he was driving it earlier in the day.
6. Why does Wilson believe Gatsby is a killer?
He was hunting for the owner of the big yellow car. He knew Tom knew because Tom was driving it as the beginning of that fateful day. So, Tom told Wilson who owned the car.
7. What does Wilson do?
He goes to Gatsby’s house, shoots and kills him, and then shoots himself.
8. Do we accept as coming from Fitzgerald himself Nick’s pronouncement that Gatsby is worth the rest of the others?
Well, Nick has proven to be a reliable narrator for sure. Gatsby seems to have romantic and sincere intentions, however, he still did many immoral things to get money and reconnect with Daisy.
9. What is ironic about Gatsby’s demise?
Daisy is the who actually killed Myrtle; she was the one who was driving.
1. What is saddening about Wolfsheim’s not coming to Gatsby’s funeral?
He spoke so highly of Gatsby and claimed to be one of his closest friends.
2. Why does Fitzgerald introduce the character of Mr. Gatz?
It gives the reader a new perspective of Gatsby. Instead of a smooth-talking, aloof, wealthy many, we see Gatsby as someone’s son, a loved child of humble people. It takes away some of the mystique
3. What do we learn about Gatsby’s dream-future in his ledger in his copy of the Western novel?
He was DRIVEN, even as a young man. He has self-discipline and a very early understanding that dreams take work!
4. What does Nick say about people like Daisy and Tom? How are we to judge Nick’s reaction to Tom and Daisy?
He says they are careless people who make big messes and leave others to clean up after them. Nick’s reaction is based on the actions he observed throughout the summer.
5. What happens between Nick and Jordan Baker?
They part company, break up. Nick is so disgusted with all their unethical, immoral behaviors. There is no ugly fight, rather, they just stop talking.
6. Why does Nick return to the Midwest?
He has to get away from all the memories of the drama, the disgusting things he saw in people.
7. What significance lies in the passage about the Dutch sailors, about the boats going against the current? Gatsby spent a lot of timing trying to be someone he is not, a wealthy, upper class person. All the money, all the possessions, can’t make him fit in, like “boats going against the current.” It is futile.
8. How does this book show the destructive power of the American dream?