The Great Gatsby Study Guide

The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald

Nick Carraway, former WWI soldier of Midwestern birth, lived in West Egg, a wealthy community on Long Island Sound. Across the bay was East Egg, full of the 'old aristocracy', including Nick's second cousin Daisy Buchanan and her husband Tom. They are extremely rich, but past their prime.

One night, Tom takes Nick to meet his mistress, Myrtle Wilson, and they go to a part hosted at Tom's Manhattan love-nest. Nick hates it there, but stays until Tom and Myrtle get in a fight and he breaks her nose in the middle of the party.

Nick learns that his neighbor, famed for throwing massive parties, is the wealthy and mysterious Jay Gatsby. He gets invited to one of the parties where he meets Jordan Baker, a (female) friend of Daisy's, and they get separated while they try to find the great Gatsby. A man strikes up a conversation with Nick about his history during the War. Nick mentions that he's looking for the host, and the man reveals himself to be Gatsby. A strange friendship between the two begins.

Jordan Baker reveals to Nick that Gatsby had fallen in love with Daisy during the war, and he hosts these parties hoping that one day she will come and visit. Nick agrees to set up a meeting between the two, and Gatsby thus begins an affair with Daisy. Nick also starts sleeping with Jordan, but it's nothing serious.

Daisy, Gatsby, Nick, Tom, and Jordan all head to the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan one afternoon. Tom notices Gatsby's relationship with his wife and confronts Gatsby. Gatsby asks Daisy to admit that she never loved Tom; she will not - she does say that she 'loved Tom once', but that she loved Gatsby too. Tom loses it and reveals that Gatsby is a bootlegger, which drives him too far down in the social standings for Daisy to want to be with him. Confident that he has bested Gatsby, Tom arrogantly suggests that Daisy ride home alone with Gatsby while he, Tom, and Jordan ride together.

George Wilson, Myrtle's husband, argues with her about her affair with Tom. Myrtle runs outside to escape, only to be struck and killed by Daisy driving Gatsby's car. Tom, Jordan, and Nick notice the commotion on their way home and stop. Nick later learns the truth from Gatsby. The next morning, Gatsby is depressed and hoping that Daisy will call. Nick informs Gatsby that "They're a rotton crowd," and "You're worth the whole damn bunch put together."

George comes to the Buchanan home ready to kill, and Tom (never knowing the truth) names Gatsby as the driver of the car that killed Myrtle. George goes to Gatsby's mansion and kills him before shooting himself.

Nobody comes to Gatsby's funeral, and his estate is picked apart by metaphorical vultures. Nick stops his superficial affair with Jordan, moves back to the Midwest, and is sad.

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