Discussion Questions on Great Gatsby

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The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald

1. This book is infused with symbolism, particularly the green light at which Jay Gatsby gazes so intently, and the eyes of Dr. Eckleburg on the billboard. What do these symbols suggest? (Symbolic meanings are fluid, not fixed; they often mean different things to different observers/readers. When Daisy is visiting Jay that first day, he mentions the green light that shines all night at the end of her dock. I really wouldn’t know why there’s a green light at that dock. But Gatsby has been gazing into in often. Green could stand for youth. When I think about green, I think about nature, about fresh leaves on trees. Just as Daisy and he were very young when they were together. Dr. Eckleburg

2. Is Jay Gatsby great? In other words, is Fitzgerald's title sincere...or ironic? I think the title is meant to be ironic. Jay Gatsby is supposed to be great because he is so wealthy and he has al these people coming over all the time. But the way he earned it all is not something to be proud of and in the end he doesn’t seem very happy, let alone appreciative of what he has. On the other hand, I think, the way wants to take the blame for Daisy’s crime is admirable.

3. Discuss the four main characters. Who, if any, do you find most sympathetic? Most important, in what way do the events of the novel affect Nick Carraway? How, or to what degree, does he change? (Some see this work as a coming-of-age story.) Consider Nick's father's advice in chapter one: "Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had." Does telling the story from Nick's point of view make it more believable? Nick: Nick’s character has good morals. We don’t see him doing anything that is not right. He seems to care for people too. Though with Jordan he’s a bit less careful, because he half-loves her but he does show affection towards her. With Gatsby, although the way he lives is questionable, he often believes him or gives him the benefit of doubt. This must be coming from the thing his father has told him about criticizing people. Because Nick is a moral good person and he comes across as reliable, down-to-earth person, I very much value his descriptions and evaluations on Gatsby and Nick’s overall perception of his new environment.

Gatsby: The mystery of Gatsby’s person is being unraveled as the story evolves. At first we just get to know him as that ‘gentlemen by the name of Gatsby’, who is living in the large mansion across the bay. One evening Nick is invited to one of Gatsby’s parties, where he meets Gatsby in person. Though they barely had spoken, Gatsby invites him to join him on his new hydroplane. Gatsby seems a busy man, because he receives a lot of telephone calls, even at two o’clock at night. Gatsby seems rather kind and spontaneous. Later on he sometimes is a bit less friendly, e.g.: when Nick asks in what business he is in, he replies: ,,That’s my affair”. In describing Gatsby, Nick uses the word ‘sinister’ a couple of times. Gatsby is obsessed with Daisy. He loves her so much that he wants to take responsibility for Daisy running over Myrtle.

Daisy: Daisy is kind of snobbish and outspoken. When Nick says, people send her their love, she ecstatically notes ,,Do they miss me?” She’s overall a bit theatrical in the way she laughs and talks. Often when she is speaking, Fitzgerald ends with ‘cried Daisy’. Daisy doesn’t have any real responsibilities. All we see her doing is visiting with friends and going to parties. She doesn’t even take care of her own daughter, she has a nanny. Daisy knows about Tom’s mistress, but she leaves it alone. Towards the end of the story she gets more and more crazy. She starts to care less and less about Tom and expresses her affection for Gatsby. At last she snaps and out of anger she runs over Myrtle. Gatsby pays for this action. The she takes off with her husband, like it had never...
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