Bound by His Origins: an Analysis of Jay Gatsby

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In F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby is a character bound by his origins. The proof of this can be found throughout the novel; Gatsby is a liar. He is rejected, more than once, by Daisy. Furthermore he seems unable to fully integrate into the ranks of the rich elite. Gatsby is never truly able to escape his downtrodden beginnings.

James Gatsby was born James Gatz in a town in Minnesota. As a young man he was taken under the wing of a famous sailor, Dan Cody. The first thing that Gatsby does, when he meets Cody, is to introduce himself under a false name. This is the first instance of Gatsby's continuing trend of being economical with the truth. The name is very important to him. It's as though he thinks that by changing his name, he can erase his past and change his lot in life. However a simple name change is nothing compared to the larger, more extravagant fabrications he relied on later in his life.

It is never explicitly stated how Gatsby came about his fortune. However he seems to have a business connection to Meyer Wolfsheim, the man Gatsby claims "fixed the World's Series in 1919" (Fitzgerald, 71) . While having lunch with an unsavoury character like Wolfshiem does not necessarily make Gatsby guilty by association, Wolfshiem's talk of "business gonnegtions" (Fitzgerald, 69) does not make their meetings seem innocent. Furthermore, Gatsby offers Nick a job and mentions that he would not be working with Wolfsheim, creating the allusion that Gatsby himself, does work with Wolfsheim. "You see I carry on a little business on the side, a sort of sideline, you understand... It happens to be a rather confidential sort of thing." (Fitzgerald, 80) . Gatsby's admission that the business is "confidential" suggests that what he did as a sideline was not completely legal. Some academics claim "the scandal of Gatsby's success lies in his ambiguously ethnic, white, working class origins" (Goldsmith, 443) . There were always rumours floating...
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