1. How does Nick describe himself at the beginning of the book? Why do you think Fitzgerald chose him to be the narrator?
a. Nick sees himself as reserved, nonjudgmental (which makes him slightly hopeful), but he can only be tolerant of others for so long. b. To use Nick as the narrator places psychic distance to the story. Nick is part of the action, yet he is not one of the principals. He shares some of the emotions and is in a position to interpret those of the others. However, the happenings are not centered on him.
2. How does Nick describe Tom Buchanan? Daisy? What kind of relationship do they have (and not that they’re cousins / old college buddies!)?
a. Nick describes Tom as enormously wealthy, violent, forceful, aggressive, sturdy, supercilious, arrogant, aggressive, and cruel. He is always living in search of that great feeling he once had in his youth as the big man on campus, the star athlete. b. Nick describes Daisy as his cousin, a lady who is charming, inviting yet sad, lovely with bright features (eyes, lips), and who has a thrilling voice / murmur that draws people in / captivates them. c. Nick’s relationship with the Buchanans is completely superficial. Nick speaks of the Buchanans as dear friends he barely knows.
3. Who is Jordan Baker? What does Nick find appealing about her?
a. Jordan is described as the “balancing girl” – the girl Nick originally thought was snobbish but later came to like for her confident air. Jordan grew up in Louisville with Daisy. She’s also a professional golfer, and Nick’s heard her name mentioned somewhere, although he can’t exactly recall where it was / what it was about. b. Jordan’s self-assurance is intriguing – she’s so confident and full of herself that she almost comes off as “self-sufficient.”
4. What is Gatsby doing when Nick first sees him?
a. Gatsby’s reaching out towards something, staring at a green light across the water which Nick says could come from a light at the end of a dock. He seems to be doing this secretly, making Nick not want to disturb him.
5. How does the tone of Nick’s description of Tom reveal Nick’s feelings about Tom? What is the significance of Tom’s reference to the book he is reading?
a. Nick isn’t very fond of Tom. He sees him as dangerous, violent, threatening, and pompous in a way. He even mentions a nervous feeling of wanting to call the cops when he feels the tension between Tom and Daisy rising and how the best bet for Daisy would be to leave Tom immediately, which even at this point he knows she won’t do. b. The content of the book Tom’s reading implies a certain lack of intellect on Tom’s part. It reveals Tom’s belief that the dominant race must stay in control, that lesser races must be beaten off, which of course reflects Tom’s own need to be in control and dominant of his surroundings and those around him.
6. How would you describe Daisy’s state of mind during dinner? What does she say and do that helps reveal her inner conflicts?
a. Daisy seems flighty and struggling for attention at the beginning of the dinner, however there’s a painful awkwardness that sets in after the phone call when she and Tom disappear into the house.
A few examples: She stares out the window with sadness over missing the longest day of the year every year; she points out her bruised and swollen finger which she says Tom injured; she throws her napkin on the table and chases after Tom when he goes to answer the phone; she sounds tense and forced when she returns from the discussion with Tom; she stares Tom down and shakes her head to keep him from answering the phone the second time; after dinner she rubs her face and stares longingly and thoughtfully out into the sunset. When she speaks afterward she does so suddenly and discusses how cynical she is and how she’s in a bad situation. She tells the story of her giving birth alone, without Tom being there, and her crying over it being a girl.
b. Finally, Daisy says she thinks everything is terrible and that anyone who’s advanced or sophisticated agrees with her as she smirks.
7. Why does Daisy describe her childhood as a “white girlhood”? Why does Daisy hope that her daughter grows up to be a beautiful little fool?
a. On a literal level, Daisy always dresses in white and even drives a white car. More importantly, she remembers her youth as a time of innocence and charming simplicity in contrast to the tawdry existence she has in the present. b. To Daisy, superficial appearance is all that matters so beauty is a necessity. Intelligence, however, might be a hazard, for Daisy lives in a world that does not hold up under inspection and if she really thought about her life, she might find it unbearable. She hopes her daughter will never have to give much thought to life / love and will simply be happy.
8. Nick thinks that, given the state of their marriage, Daisy should leave Tom, but it is clear to him that she has no intention of doing so. What indication is there that Tom and Daisy are closely linked despite their marital difficulties?
a. Tom and Daisy seem to be pretty set in their ways. They’re both used to money and attention. Both are a part of the advanced, sophisticated, elite crowd which views the world in a scorned, cynical way.
9. Why does Daisy speak in such exaggerated phrases? Why does Nick feel she is trying to be a cynic (believes the worst about people / life)?
a. By overdoing her remarks, Daisy manages to minimize everything she says. If she describes something as utterly wonderful instead of merely nice, she makes it seem quite ordinary. This may be considered a form of unconscious hyperbole – by making everything sound important, Daisy reveals that nothing is important to her. b. This is a current upper-class pose and by adopting it, Daisy not only identifies herself as part of a fashionable group, but disposes of the need to live a meaningful life, since life has no meaning anyway. 10. Why does Gatsby reach out to the water? What indications are there that the green light has a powerful emotional significance to Gatsby?
a. Gatsby is so near and yet so far away from a green light. He is stretching out his arms toward an elusive goal that he cannot quite reach. b. Gatsby reaches out to it as if he desires to touch the light. Also, he’s described as almost trembling, like he’s shaking with emotions.
The Great Gatsby – Chapter 2 Questions
1. Describe the setting of the valley of ashes where George and Myrtle live. What aspects of the setting imply that it is intended to have a symbolic meaning as well as a literal one? a. Setting description:
i. Desolate; full of ashes, strange gardens, and smoke; dim and crumbling; full of people more like ghosts than men; gray, cloudy, obscure, and bleak. ii. It feels like a hopeless land of chaos and despair where the people aren’t real. All of the visual connections seem blurred out so you can’t really tell what’s real and what’s fake. iii. There’s also a large billboard left over from an optometrist’s business (Dr. T.J. Eckleburg) which is fading and displays a large pair of blue eyes behind yellow spectacles which stare out over the land of waste. b. Symbolic:
i. Fitzgerald takes a lot of time to describe this setting in a detailed and poetic way. He focuses on the specifics of this area which is just a setting but must play a larger role in the story than just that if he’s devoting this much time to its detailed description. 1. Hint: in the future, when you see an author doing this (especially at the beginning of a chapter or new scene) it’s often because that setting means more symbolically to the story than the other settings.
2. How does Nick meet Tom’s mistress?
a. Tom takes Nick into the city and on the way there stops off at her house/her husband’s garage to meet her. They then go into the city and have a party at the apartment Tom rents for Myrtle and their indiscretions.
3. How does Myrtle react to Tom’s arrival?
a. Myrtle seems exuberant and vivacious. She walks sensually down the stairs; she’s full of life and very sexual and she makes passionate eye contact with Tom. She was clearly awaiting his arrival.
4. Describe George Wilson. How does he react to Tom’s arrival?
a. George has blond hair and light blue eyes; he is spiritless, anemic (lacking power, vigor, vitality, or colorfulness; listless; weak), and only faintly handsome. b. George seems beaten down by life and afraid to speak up. He’s very unconvincing when he says he “can’t complain” about how he’s been; he cowers under Tom’s opposition to him over the car and he does exactly as Myrtle demands of him without questioning her. He clearly doesn’t seem like a man in control of his life. c. He seems hopeful for something that Tom may bring (we’re led to believe it has something to do with a car that Tom was going to sell him). d. However, I would posit that George is the only one who is originally satisfied with his life; he has achieved his American Dream in that he has his own business and he’s married to a woman he loves. He may not be the wealthiest, but that doesn’t seem to truly bother him or he’d be doing more about it, right?
5. Why did Tom and Myrtle want Nick to go with them to the apartment?
a. Because Tom and Myrtle wanted it to seem as if what they were doing was natural. Tom also wanted Nick to respect him for his ‘manliness’ and to test Nick’s loyalty to him versus Nick’s loyalty to Daisy. Myrtle wanted to please Tom and that meant making his friend, Nick, feel welcome; she also wanted more people to see her as Tom’s woman which helped improve her ‘status’, or at least it did so in her eyes.
6. How does Myrtle behave as the party progresses?
a. Myrtle is no longer as full of life (vitality) as she was when he first met her. Now she’s displaying a hauteur which is growing more and more over the night, displaying a fake superiority which she has no right to claim. By the end of the party she feels powerful, entitled, and equal to Tom and Daisy and the rest of the upper class. b. Myrtle starts trying to make comments to show she’s part of that elite upper class of “sophisticated cynics” that Daisy was telling Nick about before. She cocks her eyebrow with disdain at compliments over her dress (most likely new) which she calls old and reveals frustration over the lack of good service from the lower class which she keeps referring to as “these people” even though she’s really a part of that class.
7. How does Fitzgerald describe Myrtle Wilson? Does her physical appearance reflect her character in any way?
a. Myrtle is described as a thick, stout, sensuous woman in her mid thirties; she’s no real beauty but she has a smoldering vitality. b. Myrtle is vulgar and physically connected – perfect for a low class mistress. The passion and liveliness of her body over any other characteristics shows she’s controlled by her bodily impulses. i. Myrtle is very different from Daisy and Jordan, the upper class ladies of the novel. They’re reserved and have a veil of innocence; she’s forward and drips with sexuality. This delineates for the reader the difference between the women of the two social classes of the novel.
8. Compare the setting of the party in this chapter with the setting of the dinner party in Chapter One.
a. The apartment party is raucous, smoky, and loud. It’s full of drunkenness to an extreme (even with Nick blacking out at the end of the chapter) and violent outbursts. From Nick’s description of the guests and the night you can see that he feels this is morally beneath him. b. The earlier dinner party was quiet, reserved, and all tension amongst the characters was under the surface. While Nick was at this party he commented to Daisy about feeling inferior to her and her party because of its “class.”
9. Why does Tom attack Myrtle at the end of the party? How does this exemplify Fitzgerald’s description of Tom in Chapter One?
a. She says Daisy’s name.
b. To assert his power and contempt over Myrtle; he does it simply because he can. c. It shows him as a violent man (which Nick’s tone described).
10. Why is the end of Chapter 2 so disjointed? What had Nick been doing all evening that might have caused this strange narrative?
a. Nick had been drinking all night. He said that he had only been drunk twice in his life and that this particular ‘party’ with Myrtle, Tom, and the others was the setting of his second drunken episode. At the end of the chapter, he is basically going through a drunken reverie so everything he is thinking, or dreaming, is illogical and meant to be so. How many people truly make sense when they are heavily under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
The Great Gatsby – Chapter 3 Questions
1. What arrives at Gatsby’s house every Friday and leaves on Monday? What does this tell you about the parties Gatsby’s hosts?
a. Five crates of lemons and oranges arrive at Gatsby’s every Friday and leave as pulp on Monday morning. This tells us that many people attend Gatsby’s parties and that many spend the entire weekend at his house.
2. Describe the events and the atmosphere of this particular party.
a. There is extreme decadence and luxury: there are huge bands, lots of food (two dinners), flowing cocktails, etc. b. Everyone is dancing and enjoying themselves. As the night goes on, women become flirtier and begin playing with the men more and enjoying themselves. c. There’s a lot of gossip at the tables concerning Gatsby. d. A drunken lady who is a famous singer begins singing and makes herself sad. As she’s singing and crying, she has no self-concern and ignores the fact that her makeup is pouring down her face in black rivers, making her appear foolish. She then sits down in a chair and falls asleep…or passes out. e. Once the night approaches the wee hours, all of the men and women begin quarrelling and the husbands have to drag their wives out of the party over their shoulders like barbarians. f. Owl Eyes and another drunken man get into a car wreck, driving their car into a ditch. The drunken man is too inebriated to even understand what happened with the car.
3. Describe two ways in which Nick differs from the other guests at Gatsby’s party.
a. Nick is actually invited to the party; everyone else just shows up. b. Nick is dressed more casually in white flannels and everyone else is in elegant suits and gowns. c. The other guests are all dancing and carrying on however they want. Nick just sits back and observes them, occasionally conversing with Jordan or other guests.
4. What does Nick think of Gatsby when he first meets him?
a. Nick is impressed with Gatsby’s smile. It seems so genuine and reassuring. b. Nick thinks Gatsby’s formality of speech and actions are almost to a level of absurdity. c. Nick has the “strong impression that Gatsby is picking his words with care,” like he’s being super careful not to say the wrong thing. d. Nick is surprised that Gatsby wasn’t as decadent and self-indulgent as he imagined a man that rich with that many parties would be.
5. Describe the ambiguity (vagueness/contradictions) in Gatsby’s character that strikes Nick.
a. No one seems to know anything about Gatsby:
i. There are rumors that he’s a bootlegger, a German spy, and that he killed a man, but no one really knows. ii. Even people who have attended several parties don’t know what he looks like and have never met him b. Gatsby appears to be a “young roughneck” and has fought in the war; however, he puts on this air of absurd formality. c. Gatsby throws lavish parties of a decadent lifestyle; however, he doesn’t touch a drop of alcohol during the party and doesn’t really even take part in it. Everyone else is having a good time, which he encourages them to do, but he’s being aloof in the shadows and taking secret business phone calls and meeting with people (Jordan) secretly rather than mingling with his guests.
6. What discovery does the owl-eyed man make in Gatsby’s library? What symbolic meaning could this reference have about society in the 1920s?
a. The owl-eyed man discovers that the books have not been ‘cut’. The books are there to show us, hopefully to make us believe, that Gatsby is well-read, educated, and wealthy. b. They are symbolic of Gatsby’s pretentiousness and of society’s superficiality.
7. How does Nick characterize the guests at Gatsby’s party? What do his characterizations tell us about how Nick feels about most of these people? What sense of life in the Jazz Age do we get from the description of this party?
a. The guests all very careless and do whatever they want to feel good, “not caring what they do” as one girl puts it. b. They’re also ridiculous looking at times in their drunken revelry (the crying singer and the drunk driver). c. Nick clearly feels morally superior to these people in a way. d. The life of the Jazz Age starts out good and enjoyable, like Gatsby’s party did, but ends in chaos. Like the people at this party, the people of the Jazz Age were looking for a good time in whatever way they could find it, never caring about responsibility or being proper. These people don’t realize the fools they’re making of themselves and how careless they’re being. Fitzgerald saw that in his own life with the wild parties he attended during the Jazz Age.
8. On what does the owl-eyed man blame the accident after Gatsby’s party? What is ironic about this claim?
a. The owl-eyed man blamed the accident on the mechanics of the car. This is ironic because he has been drunk for days and evidently the driver is quite inebriated as well, yet they blame the car instead of themselves for the accident.
9. How does Nick describe Jordan at the end of Chapter 3? What do we learn about her that would support this statement?
a. Nick describes Jordan as ‘incurably dishonest’. Supposedly, she moved her ball during one of her golf games.
10. Why does Jordan say, “I hate careless people. That’s why I like you”?
a. Jordan sees that Nick is different than most people. She also knows that she is somewhat careless and with the saying opposites attract, she’s looking for someone to balance her out and thinks she may have found that in Nick.
11. Based on the two incidents involving automobiles in this chapter, what role do automobiles seem to play in the novel so far?
a. The drunken man who runs off the road
b. Jordan almost hitting a man with her car
c. Automobiles clearly display the carelessness of the age and of the people who have enough money to buy these nice cars. They don’t seem to care who they hurt or what happens. They’re also very DANGEROUS in the hands of these careless people for other people out there.
12. What unique quality do we learn that Nick possesses?
a. He is honest, which during this time period was a rarity, especially in the circles in which Nick ran. (One could argue that it’s a rarity today as well but …. )
The Great Gatsby – Chapter 4 Questions
1. What does Gatsby tell Nick about himself? Aside from the improbability of his story, what other evidence is there that Gatsby is lying about something when he tells Nick about his background?
a. Gatsby tells Nick:
i. He’s from the Midwest and comes from a wealthy family. He attended Oxford because it was a family tradition – EVERYONE in his family attended Oxford. ii. His entire family died and he came into their riches. He took his riches and toured Europe with trunks of rubies and other jewels, living the party life of a young rajah and going on great adventures like big game safari hunts. iii. He became very sorrowful over something “sad that happened to him long ago” and joined the army when the war began. He even tried to die but instead became a hero. They promoted him to major and he received decorations from every Allied government – EVEN LITTLE MONTENEGRO!!! b. Evidence of lying:
i. The way he says “Oxford”: Nick says he chokes on it and says it as quickly as possible, looking at him sideways afterwards. ii. He says he’s from the Middlewest but when pressured by Nick says specifically “San Francisco.” iii. Everything he says seems so “threadbare” – like he’s said these stories so many times and rehearsed them that they’re wearing thin.
2. What is the significance of Nick’s statements: “Anything can happen now that we’ve slid over this bridge?” and “Even Gatsby could happen, without any particular wonder.”
a. Prior to this phrase, Nick saw a limousine pass him with a white chauffeur and black passengers. The white person here is the servant and the black people have the same haughty air of superiority that he recognizes in the social elite of the time. This is still a significant surprise at this time in history due to the racial tensions and restrictions. Really, only New York had this kind of thing happening – the rest of the country is VERY behind this city during the twenties. i. The twenties was the time of the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural explosion of African American writing, music, and art. African Americans flocked to New York to take part in this new freedom. b. Prior to this scene Nick completely disbelieves Gatsby’s ridiculous story about riches, living like a rajah, and the war; however, in the kind of city where he can see a white person acting as the chauffeur for rich black people, Nick realizes that ANYTHING can happen – New York must be a place for incredible stories and reinvention. Maybe this mysterious man “Gatsby” COULD really exist here….. i. NOTE: This is the second view of New York in the novel. It’s very much in conjunction with the idea of this city being the place to realize your great American Dream, for Gatsby and Myrtle!
3. Who is Meyer Wolfsheim? What seems to be his connection with Gatsby? What does this tell us about Gatsby?
a. Meyer Wolfsheim is most likely in some type of organized crime; we reach this conclusion because of the story of Rosy Rosenthal’s hit and Gatsby’s claim that Wolfsheim fixed the ’19 World Series. He and Gatsby are some type of business associates; they met some time after the war. This tells us that Gatsby’s business dealings are most likely not legal.
4. Jordan Baker tells Nick about Daisy, Gatsby, and Tom. Summarize the story. Also, after Jordan tells Nick the story of Gatsby and Daisy, Nick says that Gatsby “came alive to me, delivered suddenly from the womb of his purposeless splendor.” How does this metaphor of birth help explain what Gatsby’s behavior had meant to Nick up to then?
a. This is basic summarization – you know this one!
b. Nick finally understands Gatsby for the first time. Prior to this, Nick had been confounded by Gatsby’s actions; now he understands why Gatsby has been staring across the bay at the green light and why Gatsby gives a party every weekend for people he doesn’t know. Prior to this, Gatsby has been sort of aloof and unapproachable to Nick; now he sees him as a real person with hopes and dreams like everybody else instead of a stuck up rich neighbor.
5. How does Daisy behave after Gatsby goes overseas? What does her behavior show about her feelings for Gatsby? According to Jordan, what did Daisy do on her wedding day? Why?
a. Daisy begins dating non-military men, men who have been turned down by the armed services for whatever reason. Then, she suddenly gets engaged the next February, but by the next June she’s not only engaged to someone else, she’s married to someone else – Tom. This erratic behavior indicates that she really is in love with Gatsby and in order to try to get over him, she gets married because she thinks that’s what she’s supposed to do and should do to squash her feelings for Gatsby. b. Daisy became intoxicated; she received a letter from someone and by all indications through Jordan’s allusions, we assume the letter was a love letter from Gatsby that gave her pause in her plans to marry Tom.
6. Why do you think Gatsby has so many parties? Why did he buy the house?
a. Gatsby bought the house across from Daisy in hopes that they would run into each other and Daisy would realize that she was still as much in love with Gatsby as he was with her. He had the parties in hopes that Daisy may wander through his door one weekend and they would have that magical reunion that he has worked toward and dreamed about for so long.
7. Why does Gatsby want to have tea with Daisy at Nick’s house? Why doesn’t Gatsby ask Nick for this favor himself?
a. Gatsby wants to have tea with Daisy at Nick’s house because Nick’s house is right beside Gatsby’s house and Gatsby actually wants Daisy to see his (Gatsby’s) house to see how successful he has become. Basically, Gatsby’s success (materially) and Daisy are inseparable; he didn’t believe he could have one without the other. b. Gatsby doesn’t want to overstep any boundaries; he barely knows Nick. Gatsby feels because of the feelings that he believes Nick is beginning to have for Jordan that Jordan will make a good intercessory and that Nick will acquiesce to her whereas he might turn Gatsby down.
8. What does Tom do when he and Daisy return from their honeymoon? Explain.
a. Tom was out driving one day in Ventura and had a wreck. He was not alone; the chambermaid from the hotel was in the car. b. This tells us that he has been unfaithful to Daisy since pretty much the beginning of their marriage.
9. With Jordan in his arms, Nick thinks of a phrase: “There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired.” How do you think this phrase reflects on the events of the novel so far? Do you think that Gatsby would agree with the phrase?
a. Pursued / Pursuing:
i. Gatsby is pursuing Daisy; Myrtle is pursuing Tom; Nick and Jordan are pursuing each other. b. Busy:
i. Gatsby is busy, trying to keep up with society the way he feels Daisy is accustomed to. Nick is busy trying to learn a new business and escape his past (home, war, ex-girlfriend). Tom is busy being anything but a good husband / father. c. Tired:
i. Daisy is tired of her cheating husband; Myrtle is tired of being poor.
The Great Gatsby – Chapter 5 Questions
1. What does Gatsby offer Nick in return for Nick’s cooperation in inviting Daisy to his house? What is Nick’s response?
a. Gatsby offers to help Nick earn money by coming into business with him. b. Nick realizes this is an offer of obligation, plus he’s already hesitant Gatsby’s business if it involves someone as shady as Wolfsheim, so he turns him down. i. Plus, don’t forget that Nick is our slightly more moral character in this novel. He has values and ethics and would wish to make it on his own as opposed to doing something underhanded to get ahead in life.
2. What is the meeting between Gatsby and Daisy like initially?
a. The initial meeting between Gatsby and Daisy is incredibly awkward. Daisy appears shocked to see Gatsby, and Gatsby doesn’t know how to act around her. His hands are shoved in his pockets, he nervously knocks Nick’s clock off the wall, and he speaks rigidly. b. Gatsby’s eyes are described as distraught and he moves tensely and with a conscientious manner about him. Daisy is described as frightened. Even Nick is so uncomfortable at this time that he says he starts blushing from embarrassment for them. c. Gatsby almost tries to run away, telling Nick that the meeting was a “terrible mistake” and loses his manners while he’s talking with Nick. The only comfort he takes is when Nick tells him Daisy is embarrassed too and that Gatsby’s being rude to her by leaving her alone.
3. How are Daisy and Gatsby different when Nick returns to the house after half an hour? How do these attitudes correlate with the weather?
i. All embarrassment is gone. Daisy is so happy, yet has apparently been crying as her face is smeared with tears. Gatsby was so absolutely happy that Nick describes him as glowing and displaying a feeling of “new well-being” which “filled the room.” ii. They’re both giddy and exude joy.
i. 1st: the rainy day reflects the stormy emotions Gatsby is feeling as he fears what Daisy’s reaction to him will be. ii. 2nd: after they’ve had their private chat, the rain clears away and the sun breaks out in the west surrounded by puffy pink and gold clouds. This represents the stormy emotions leaving him as the two characters have started to come back to one another. There’s now happiness and rejuvenation as the rain dies back a bit and the sun literally and figuratively shines on their situation.
4. What is ironic about the cottage owner’s refusal to put thatched roofs on their homes? Remember, the book says “Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry.”
a. A brewer had offered the cottage owners money to put the thatched roofs on their homes; he wanted to be able to look out at his ‘feudal estate’ with pride, knowing that he owned a little piece of each. But, the people refused because although they may be beholden to some for what they have, they are not ‘owned’, they are not peasants in service to a feudal lord. The people control their destinies and they want it to remain that way. That is the American dream – that people can transform themselves into who they want to be. After all, look at what Gatsby has been able to accomplish in less than five years!
5. What does Gatsby reply when Nick asks him how he makes his money? Why does Nick find that significant?
a. First, Gatsby becomes defensive and only replies “That’s my affair.” Then, realizing that this doesn’t jive with the cautious, carefully planned background story he’s already told Nick – plus it would look too suspicious if he left it as “his affair – he tells Nick he’s been in the “drug business” and “oil business.” i. Remember: he had to answer this question because he already SLIPPED UP by thinking out loud about how it took him 3 years to make the money to buy this house. b. Gatsby told Nick he was exceptionally wealthy and had gotten the money from his parents and family when they (all) died. Supposedly he’d even lived in Europe extravagantly. Nick realizes this is a slip up in his background story and notices the shady way he tries to cover it up. i. NOTE: this doesn’t help Gatsby too much. Remember that he wants to be good enough for Daisy, an East Egger. East Eggers were all rich from birth with old money family names. Gatsby loses his “money from birth” status a bit when he reveals this to Nick.
6. What is Gatsby’s dialogue like in this chapter? What does it tell us about Gatsby?
a. Early on Gatsby’s dialogue is very tense and abrupt. Later on, after his private chat with Daisy, his dialogue becomes scatter-brained. He leaves his sentences unfinished and speaks without thinking about what he’s saying – so NOT Gatsby, the man Nick says plans every word carefully before saying it. b. He’s very wrapped up in Daisy and can’t focus around her. He’s starting to slip into carelessness over her because of his desire and attention.
7. Why do you think Daisy sobs when Gatsby shows her his shirts?
a. She loved Gatsby and yet still married Tom for his money and support (well…the protection and support that a man would give a woman, not emotional support). Here Gatsby is in front of her and as wealthy as Tom. Had she ONLY WAITED she could have had the money, support, status, AND a happy marriage with an adoring husband. Her crying could be self-pity in a way, anger at herself and jealous of what she could have had, namely this life with Gatsby. b. OR: She’s so happy that Gatsby, the man she originally wanted and loved, has money and power. The only thing really keeping her in her marriage is the money Tom has and the social status. Maybe with Gatsby being as rich as she sees he is, she can leave Tom and marry Gatsby and everything will be ok. Therefore, she may be crying for happiness out of her potential to escape her marriage.
8. What are Gatsby’s feelings by the end of the chapter?
a. Gatsby’s completely baffled by Daisy and this experience. Now that he’s gotten his dream, what does he do? He’d been dreaming of her for so long and now he has her. This moment rings almost similar to the anticlimax that Nick mentioned about Tom’s life. He describes that Gatsby must have even that early realized that he couldn’t be completely happy. How could Daisy every live up to the dream of her he had anticipated and built up? She can’t. i. “He had passed visibly through two states and was entering upon a third. After his embarrassment and his unreasoning joy he was consumed with wonder at her presence. He had been full of the idea so long, dreamed it right through to the end, waited with his teeth set, so to speak, at an inconceivable pitch of intensity. Now, in the reaction, he was running down like an overwound clock.” ii. “Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one.” iii. “As I went over to say good-by I saw that the expression of bewilderment had come back into Gatsby’s face, as thought a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness. Almost five years! There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams – not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store u pin his ghostly heart.”
9. In this chapter, Gatsby’s dream seems to be fulfilled. What indications are there, though, that reality cannot satisfy his dream?
a. Nick discusses how the only thing Gatsby couldn’t possibly have over-imagined, and consequently built up for a fall, is Daisy’s voice. Everything else could never possibly be as good as his dream of her. b. By the end of the chapter, Gatsby seems somewhat puzzled and dazed. He’s been working towards the dream of Daisy for so long that he doesn’t know how to act or what to think now that she’s really there with him. At this point, it may be hard for Daisy to live up to all of Gatsby’s expectations because he’s pined for her so long, reached towards that elusive green light for so long, that now that she’s there, she probably falls short of his expectations through no fault of her own but through the ‘colossal vitality of his illusion.’
The Great Gatsby – Chapter 6 Questions
1. What’s Gatsby’s REAL story behind his past?
a. He was a poor young man from North Dakota. He met a rich sailor and adventurer named Dan Cody who helped out on his yacht; he began calling himself Jay Gatsby, a name he’d created in his mind to help him make his big escape from the doldrums of his life. He was doing manual labor up until he became Cody’s help. Cody was a partier whose weaknesses were women and booze – possibly part of the reason Gatsby declines alcohol. Cody was very wealthy and tried to leave his money to Gatsby, but a woman (Ella Kaye, also the woman who may be responsible for Cody’s death), somehow took all of the money and left Gatsby with nothing of his miraculous inheritance.
2. When and why does James Gatz change his name?
c. He changes his name when he meets Dan Cody, the millionaire, and begins his association with Cody. He is not happy with his lot in life or with the way that his parents have lived and feels that this is his chance to change things and to become the person he wants to be.
3. How is the comparison of Gatsby with Christ (“he was a son of God…and he must be about his Father’s business”) ironic? If the comparison with Christ were to continue throughout the book, what would happen to Gatsby?
a. Gatsby is so far the complete opposite of what Christ was. Gatsby talks of vast, vulgar, and superficial beauty, of material possessions, and of wealth / status. Christ represented purity and innocence and was unconcerned with earthly possessions / money. b. If the comparison were to continue, then we would have to assume that Gatsby, like Christ, will be betrayed and killed.
4. Tom, Mr. Sloane, and a young lady visit Gatsby and the lady invites Gatsby to come to dinner with them. What does Gatsby’s response tell us about his social sensitivity? What does Tom’s response tell us about his? What connection, if any, do you think this scene might have with Gatsby’s love of Daisy?
a. Gatsby is not very socially adept. He thinks the invitation is sincere because he expects everyone to be sportsmanlike in their actions. He doesn’t realize that the woman may not actually mean what she is saying. Tom, on the other hand, automatically feels superior to Gatsby and can’t believe that Gatsby would honestly believe that someone from Tom’s social group would actually want Gatsby to attend one of her parties. Gatsby is similarly blind when it comes to Daisy; he thinks that she will simply remember their love and want to be together, no matter what has transpired in their lives during their five year separation.
5. What is Daisy’s real reaction to Gatsby’s party?
a. Daisy thought the party was beneath her; she was offended by the ‘ordinary’ people who were there, people who were below her socially. It makes her reevaluate Gatsby and who he is or has become.
6. What does Gatsby tell Nick he wants Daisy to do?
a. To tell Tom that she never loved him. Gatsby wants Daisy to erase the past 5 years of separation between them. He’s obsessed with the past.
7. What is Gatsby’s view of the past? When Nick says that Gatsby “wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy,” what do you think he means?
a. That he can repeat it.
b. Gatsby liked who he was with Daisy earlier in his life when they were together. He needs at this point in his life to recover that earlier time of happiness, drive, and simplicity, especially since his life has been so chaotic ever since he lost her. He believes that getting Daisy, the goal he set out to attain so many years ago, would put his life back on track and make him complete.
8. At the end of the chapter, Nick describes Gatsby kissing Daisy in Louisville five years before. What is Gatsby giving up when he kisses her? Why?
a. Up to this point, Gatsby has been his own man, the man that he created that first day he stepped on Dan Cody’s yacht. Now, with this kiss, he becomes attached to someone else and he knows that by kissing her, things will never be the same for him.
The Great Gatsby – Chapter 7 Questions
1. Why does Gatsby stop giving parties? Why did Gatsby fire all of his servants? Who replaced them? What was unique about these replacements?
a. Stopped giving parties:
i. Gatsby stopped giving parties because Daisy disapproved of them. b. Fired all of his servants:
i. Daisy was visiting Gatsby in the afternoons and Gatsby was afraid that his house servants would gossip about it in town and he wanted to protect Daisy’s reputation. Of course, he was right – they would have gossiped; Nick found out from his Finn who found out during one of her excursions to town. c. Replaced servants with:
i. Gatsby replaced his servants with some ‘brothers and sisters’ of Meyer Wolfshiem’s; whether they were actually related to Wolfshiem or not we don’t know but they were most likely not servants. d. Unique about replacements:
i. The new wait staff probably performed illegal duties for Gatsby instead of household duties.
2. What does Gatsby see at Daisy’s house that disturbs him? Why does this bother him so much?
a. Gatsby sees Daisy’s daughter, Pammy, at Daisy’s.
b. Pammy complicates things. She acts as an eternal connection between Tom and Daisy. It won’t be as easy to just “erase the past 5 years” with a child in the picture. c. Gatsby will find it harder for him conscientiously to take Daisy from her “family”.
3. What does Daisy do while Tom is in the other room? What does she tell Jordan to do? Why does Jordan call Daisy a ‘low, vulgar girl’?
a. Daisy kisses Gatsby and tells him that she loves him. When Jordan calls her on it, Daisy tells Jordan to kiss Nick. Jordan calls Daisy a low, vulgar girl because ladies do not show affection in that way while in the presence of others. Affection is private and should be shown / kept that way.
4. When does Tom first realize that Daisy loves Gatsby?
a. When they’re standing in the hot room and Daisy tells Gatsby he “always looks so cool.” b. This phrase is said with such intense passion in her voice and look that Tom is all of a sudden aware that something has been going on.
5. Describe what’s going on with George Wilson. What does he want to do? Why does he suddenly need money from / made off of Tom?
a. George says he’s been “wised up to some things recently,” that he’s feeling sick, and that he and Myrtle are heading out West. b. George has become aware that Myrtle is cheating on him and this kills him. He’s lost it all now and is desperate to escape New York with his wife and his life in tact even if it means losing his soul and dream.
6. Why is Myrtle Wilson upset when she sees Tom and Jordan?
a. Myrtle is jealous. She assumes that Jordan is Tom’s wife and it appears from the room above that he’s ignoring her, not even trying to see her, but instead enjoying a New York outing with his wife.
7. Why does Fitzgerald emphasize the heat? Of what could the weather be symbolic?
a. The heat is stifling and suffocating. It is like the tension in the midst of this group; the tension is mounting and pretty soon, something will have to give or something will explode. This chapter is the climax; the heat represents the passions that are brought to this climax, passions of jealousy, of love, of pride, and of hate.
8. What is ironic about Tom saying that he has second sight?
a. Tom doesn’t have ‘second sight’; if he did, he would have known that something was wrong in his own house long before now. He can’t have second sight because that would suggest that he look outside of himself whenever all he really cares about is himself. The only reason he is upset is because this upsets his ideal of social structure and the role that the people in his life are supposed to play.
9. What is the significance of “Blocks” Biloxi? Why do you think Fitzgerald inserted this little tid-bit?
a. When we look at Gatsby’s party, many people went to these parties uninvited and there was a broad range of social classes at his parties. Looking at the Buchanan’s wedding, is it so different? They had a nobody impose on their wedding day uninvited.
10. Why is Nick so pleased with Gatsby’s honesty about Oxford? Show how this pleasure turns to disgust then back to pleasure as the chapter progresses.
a. Nick is tired of all the secrecy and lies that is going on around him and he is refreshed to discover that Gatsby was, after all, being honest about who he was. He now has someone with whom he can identify, someone with integrity, and he likes the way that Gatsby gracefully cuts Tom short. b. Then, when Gatsby is talking about the accident, he once again seems like a brutal lower class thug to Nick because of his callous and insensitive attitude towards Myrtle’s death. c. Once he tells Nick that Daisy was driving the car, Nick once again appreciates Gatsby because he’s not callous at all; he’s simply trying to protect the woman he loves at all costs.
11. Why does Tom refer to the liaison between Daisy and Gatsby in terms of intermarriage?
a. Tom is very class conscience. He believes that there is no difference in people of different classes cavorting around than there are between people of different races. He believes that the lower classes, like the ‘lower races’, must be kept in their places, beaten down so as to remain there, and he does this with Gatsby and in doing so destroys Gatsby’s dream. b. Again, the double-standard applies; it’s okay for him to associate with someone from a different class but it’s not okay for Daisy to. Chances are, it would have been okay to him had Daisy been having an affair as long as she was doing so with someone from their own social class.
12. Tom says that he will be better to Daisy from now on, that he will take better care of her. Do you think he will? Support your answer with information from the book.
a. Shortly after he says this, Tom knows that Daisy isn’t going to leave him, yet he makes her take a humiliating ride home with Gatsby instead of letting her ride home with him. So no, chances are he hasn’t learned his lesson nor will he change, ever.
13. Why does Nick change his feelings toward Jordan?
a. Jordan talks like the Buchanans and she stays with them occasionally. After the day they all had, Nick no longer likes the Buchanans nor anyone associated with them, including Jordan. He doesn’t like what they represent or who they are.
14. How does Gatsby characterize Daisy’s voice? What do you think he means by this?
a. It’s full of money. Daisy’s voice represents the upper class from which she comes. She speaks with the attitude of the upper class. This is part of the dream that holds Gatsby all of these years – it’s not just her that he’s obsessed with, it’s her lifestyle. He wants to be a part of her world.
The Great Gatsby – Chapter 8 Questions
1. What does Gatsby tell Nick the night of the accident? Why?
a. The truth about his past—everything from James Gatz to his relationship with Daisy.
2. Did Gatsby want to go to Oxford?
a. No. It was an accident that he was sent there and he tried the whole time to make it back.
3. What would you say is the principal reason for Daisy’s appeal to Gatsby?
a. Gatsby does love Daisy…maybe….but she’s from the world he desires. She has money, social status, and she’s the kind of “nice girl” that would be the perfect wife for the upper class lifestyle he has always imagined for himself. b. The reader sees here that maybe Gatsby didn’t completely love Daisy for her; there was a bit of selfish social climbing in this particular girl.
4. How does Nick leave Gatsby?
a. Nick is reluctant to leave Gatsby. He misses trains staying with Gatsby, almost as if he knows this will be the last time that he sees him. Although he is tied to the Buchanans (by blood, school, background, etc.), he feels a real connection to Gatsby and hates to leave him.
5. How does Nick compliment Gatsby and what is Gatsby’s reaction? Why is it important that Nick thank Gatsby?
a. Nick tells Gatsby that although he originally disliked him, he’s learned that Gatsby’s better that the rest of them – meaning Tom, Daisy, Jordan, etc. b. Gatsby at first isn’t sure how to take this compliment; then, when he realizes what Nick is saying and what it truly means, he is extremely happy and Nick knows it. Gatsby realizes that Nick is complimenting him by telling him that he is true while the others around him lead false lives. c. Many people have used Gatsby throughout the story and Nick feels that he needs to thank Gatsby, not only for all that he’s done but for who he is.
6. How does George Wilson spend the night after the accident?
a. He’s rocking back and forth, staring off, crying and shouting, “Oh my God!” b. Michaelis is the only person who stays with him to keep an eye on him.
7. What evidence had Wilson found that his wife was having an affair?
a. Wilson found a new, expensive dog collar / leash.
b. Not only do they NOT own a dog, Myrtle shouldn’t be able to afford that collar / leash. i. He was already concerned because she’d come home from the city with a black eye and a busted nose one day.
8. What do the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg symbolize to George Wilson? What is significant about this symbol?
a. God’s eyes always watching and seeing everything.
b. It shows that Myrtle’s indiscretions were being watched the entire time, but overall it represents how all of the sinful actions of the characters have been seen and won’t go unrecognized by God.
9. How do you think Wilson got Gatsby’s name? Does any evidence in this chapter point to a particular person?
a. George got the information about Gatsby from Tom.
b. Wilson told Michaelis that he “had a way of finding out whom the yellow car belonged to.”
10. How does Nick characterize Gatsby’s state of mind before “the incident” which occurs at the end of the chapter? What is this “incident” that happens?
a. Gatsby seems confused and frightful. He’s looking at the world with the eyes of a person who realizes it’s time to find a new dream. This makes even the simplest parts of the world seem new and scary to him because it’s a world that’s unknown. b. Wilson shows up and shoots Gatsby while Gatsby’s floating in the pool, then shoots himself.
The Great Gatsby – Chapter 9 Questions
1. Why do Tom and Daisy leave? What does Tom confess to Nick when they meet that fall? Does he regret what he has done?
a. Tom and Daisy, as usual, run away so that they won’t have to accept any responsibility in the tragedy that has unfolded. They evidently left Chicago in much the same way, according to Daisy’s reference of their hasty departure from Chicago when they were all in the hotel room at the Plaza. They are simply careless people who don’t take responsibility or seem to care who gets hurt or what they’ve done. We can see that neither of them has changed. b. Tom confesses that he told Wilson Gatsby owned the car and where Wilson could find Gatsby. c. Tom says Gatsby had it coming to him for what he did to Myrtle. i. The reader isn’t given enough information to know whether or not he’s saying this to cover for Daisy or if he really believes that Gatsby was the driver. ii. Either way, there’s no doubt that the outcome would’ve been the same either way: he would’ve said Gatsby did it no matter what to save himself and Daisy.
2. What does the telephone call from Chicago tell us about Gatsby’s business?
a. The business is crumbling. People are getting arrested and there are problems. b. This means it’s possible that even if he would’ve lived—EVEN if he would’ve kept Daisy—that everything would’ve fallen apart anyway.
3. What does Klipspringer want from Nick? How does Nick react to this?
a. Klipspringer wants his tennis shoes.
b. Nick gets angry and hangs up on him.
i. This shows the reader that NONE of Gatsby’s partygoers really cared about him at all; they were all just using him for what they could get out of him—parties, alcohol, a place to stay, a good time—and none would be there for him if he needed them.
4. What is the significance of Mr. Gatz’ arrival? What is the irony of Mr. Gatz’ admiration of Gatsby’s house?
a. You would think that some of Gatsby’s ‘friends’ would be around when they learn that he has passed away, yet the only one to come to the house is his father, the man that Gatsby disowned because he wasn’t good enough for Gatsby. Mr. Gatz’ admiration of the house shows that he is probably not that different from Gatsby after all; he is truly impressed with the show of wealth, just like Gatsby was.
5. Why does Mr. Gatz show Nick Gatsby’s schedule from his youth? What does this show you about the kind of person Gatsby was meant to be? What is the pathos of Gatsby’s youthful resolutions?
a. Gatsby’s schedule shows that since his youth, he has been a determined individual, determined to make something of himself and to be a good person while he was at it. b. He left home in search of the ‘American Dream’ and while he does earn the material success, he doesn’t let him ruin him like so many others do; he did become a better person, better than those who belong to the upper class to which he struggled to belong.
6. What is the significance of the owl-eyed man’s attendance at the funeral? With what can we associate him?
a. The owl-eyed man guessed at the depth of the man who was Gatsby; he respected him and in so doing, he showed up to pay those respects and to feel compassion and pity that few others realized just how good of a man Gatsby truly was. We can associate him with the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg in his omniscient powers; he knew about the service although Nick had never called him and he was able to ‘see’ into Gatsby’s very soul.
7. What is the significance of Jordan’s comment about the “bad driver”? How does Nick characterize Tom and Daisy at the end of the book? What have they “smashed” throughout the book?
i. This is another reference to the ‘careless’ lives that people like Jordan and the Buchanans live. Jordan, Tom, and Daisy are used to life watching out for them instead of the other way around; unfortunately, Nick didn’t share in that philosophy and this bothered her. b. Tom and Daisy:
i. He says they’re careless people, like children, who smashed everyone and everything else up and left the mess for someone else to clean up while they escaped through their money.
8. Why does the era of Prohibition lend an added significance to the hypocrisy emphasized in The Great Gatsby?
a. In almost every scene of the book, alcohol plays a significant role. Very rarely is Tom mentioned that he isn’t drinking. (Daisy was drunk on her wedding day; the dinners at the Buchanans and the parties at Gatsby’s all have drinks; Tom and Myrtle get into a drunken brawl; lunch in NYC is serviced with alcohol; Tom grabs whiskey before they go to the Plaza Hotel; etc.) Yet, Tom has the audacity to look down at the man who is supplying this alcohol; Gatsby, who isn’t ‘royalty’ like Tom, is treated as a common criminal, although he provides a role that evidently Tom and others like him can’t do without.
9. What is a true ‘gentleman’? Who was the true gentleman – Tom or Gatsby? Explain.
a. A true gentleman is someone who is true to himself, who behaves in a conscientious manner at all times, and who treats others with absolute respect and dignity. Gatsby most certainly matches this definition. He forges through life in his pursuit of true love, he doesn’t rise to the bait that Tom throws at him, and he is completely respectful of all who are around him at any given time.
10. What does Nick mean when he says “the holocaust was complete”?
a. Those who were most innocent (Gatsby and Wilson) are now dead. b. Those who were responsible (Daisy and Tom) will never pay.
11. What does the green light symbolize at the end of the novel?
a. The overall American dream : the hope that it can be achieved and the desire/need to keep reaching for that great dream even when all the odds are against you and it seems hopeless