The Great Gatsby


Introduction and Background

Francis Scott Key was the writer of The Star-Spangled Banner. His name was given to one of his descendants, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, who was born in September of 1896. Fitzgerald published The Great Gatsby in 1925, but it was not his first work. He first began to gain fame five years earlier, when he published This Side of Paradise. Despite his success, his beginnings were humble, at best. He was born and raised in St. Paul Minnesota, and did not do well in school. He was intelligent, but the work did not seem to interest him, and his grades suffered for that. In 1911, he was sent to a boarding school, where he was still only an average student. Even with his lower grades, he successfully enrolled in Princeton in 1913. In college, he had the same academic problems, and the same level of apathy toward schooling, he had experienced in the past. Because of that, he ended up dropping out and never made it to his graduation day.

As WWI was ending, in 1917, Fitzgerald chose to join the Army. He was stationed in Alabama and worked his way up to the rank of second lieutenant. During that time, he also fell deeply in love with a seventeen-year-old woman by the name of Zelda. She agreed she would be his wife, but delayed the wedding until he could prove to her that he could give her fun, leisure, and wealth. When he published This Side of Paradise in 1920 and gained fame, Zelda went through with the wedding. Much of what happened to him when he was a boy appeared later, in The Great Gatsby. The main character, Nick Carraway, is young and thoughtful, as well as well-educated at Yale. After the war, he moves to New York. Jay Gatsby is similar to Fitzgerald, as well, because he is sensitive and in love with a young woman. They both want wealth and luxury, but Gatsby is stationed in the South, at a military installation.

With his celebrity status, Fitzgerald became reckless and wild, living a decadent lifestyle full of parties. He continued to write to earn money, so that he would be able to keep Zelda happy. He knew she would...

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