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The Great Gatsby Plot and Character Summary

The Great Gatsby is a story told by Nick Carraway, who was once Gatsby’s neighbour. Nick Carraway grew up in the Midwestern United States and went to school at Yale University. After this, he was stationed in France during World War I. Returning home after travelling a great deal, he is unhappy and decides to move to the East at the beginning of the summer of 1922, renting a broken-down house in Long Island’s West Egg section. He begins working in nearby New York City as a bondsman and it is here that his story begins.

Jay Gatsby is a wealthy neighbour living next door in an extravagant mansion where he holds many excessive weekend parties. His name is mentioned while Nick is visiting a relative, Daisy, living in the East Egg section on the other side of Long Island with her millionaire husband, Tom Buchanan. As it turns out, Jay Gatsby had met Daisy five years before while in the military and was rejected by her due to his lack of wealth and because he had been sent so far away in Europe for the war. Daisy was attracted by Tom’s riches and his distinguished family background and married him.

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Meanwhile, Gatsby spent all of his efforts after the war to buy his mansion through shady business dealings in order to be nearer to Daisy in the hope that she would leave Tom for him. Nick is chosen to be the “matchmaker” and arranges a reunion for the two at his home. Daisy is impressed by Gatsby’s wealth and the two begin spending much time together, raising the suspicions of Tom who had also upset Daisy by carrying on an affair with a gas station owner’s wife, Myrtle Wilson. Jay no longer holds his weekend parties since Daisy hadn’t liked them and he allows her to control his actions. Nick distances himself from this mess by becoming close to Jordan Baker, a long-time friend of Daisy.

While in a New York City hotel room one evening in the summer with Jordan, Nick, Daisy, Tom, and Gatsby, there is a massive confrontation during which Tom exposes Gatsby’s corrupt business dealings. In addition, Jay demands that Daisy tell Tom that she never loved him. Daisy doesn’t because she said it wasn’t true. Jay and Daisy leave to drive back to Long Island together, with her driving Gatsby’s car “to calm her down.” On the way back, she accidentally hits and kills Tom’s mistress, Myrtle Wilson, running out in front of the gas station after her own jealous husband had locked her inside. The car doesn’t stop after the accident and speeds on towards Long Island. Tom refocuses on Daisy since his mistress has been killed, assuming Gatsby to have been the car’s driver. Nick is disgusted by this entire mess of love affairs and even ignores Jordan. Nick is worried about Gatsby since he continues to desire Daisy even though it is clear that he has failed. While Nick goes off to work in New York City the next day, the dead woman’s vengeful husband, assuming Gatsby to have been driving his car that night and told that it had been Gatsby’s car by a vengeful Tom Buchanan, shoots Gatsby to death in his own swimming pool and then kills himself.

Gatsby’s funeral has few in attendance aside from Carraway and Jay’s father who has come all the way from the Midwest where Jay grew up. Nick is disgusted that so few had come to Gatsby’s funereal, considering the hundreds who attended Gatsby’s parties, but specifically Tom and Daisy, who had suddenly moved away. With that in his mind, Nick finally distances himself from Jordan for good. Lastly, tired of this gross scene of wealth and nastiness, he moves back home to the Midwest.

Character Summary

Nick Carraway: Nick is the narrator of the story. He is a man in his late twenties originally from Midwest, he has moved East to Long Island’s West Egg to start a new life working in bonds. He attended Yale University with Tom Buchanan before his service in the war. He feels set apart from the luxurious lifestyle of these people in the East and after rejecting this way of life, moves back to the West. Nick describes himself as being one of the few honest people he has ever met. Nick alone seems to care about his neighbour Gatsby dies and goes about arranging the funeral himself.

Jay Gatsby: Gatsby was sent off to Europe for the war, after which he claimed he had gone to Oxford University. Jay was raised by a farm family in the Midwest like Nick and also in his late twenties. He earned his wealth from shady business dealings. His whole purpose in life is to win back Daisy, whom he was rejected by because he was not wealthy enough. He throws wild weekend parties throughout the summer for people whom he hardly knows hoping that Daisy, the love of his life, will one day come to one. A very jealous Tom Buchanan shatters his illusion of being a distinguished gentleman. He has an illusion of being an exceedingly distinguished gentleman which is shattered in the end by a very jealous Tom Buchanan. Daisy is appalled although Gatsby refuses to give up the chase, waiting for her to call him until the very moment he dies.

Daisy Buchanan: A relative of Nick Carraway, this elegant girl was also from the West before moving to Long Island’s East Egg with her husband Tom. She has always enjoyed luxury and had rejected Gatsby five years earlier due to his lack of wealth. She shows interest only when Gatsby shows her the riches that he has come to earn. Daisy is a terribly unhappy person at heart due to her regrets about being married to Tom. She is the one who kills Myrtle while driving Gatsby’s station wagon. Afterwards, she disappears from Long Island with Tom, failing to appear at the funeral. She has a baby daughter, Pammy, although she seems to spend little time with her.

Tom Buchanan: A football star at Yale University, he had since continued to live off his Chicago-based family’s wealth and married Daisy before travelling to France and then returning to the US and moving to East Egg. He thinks himself to be an intelligent man, constantly babbling random facts he has read or heard. He has a great feeling of possessiveness towards Daisy. At the same time, however, he sees no wrongdoing in having an affair with Myrtle Wilson. Tom tells George Wilson that the car that ran into his wife had belonged to Gatsby, unaware perhaps that his own wife had been the driver.

Jordan Baker: A golfer, Baker is somewhat of a celebrity. In the midst of Daisy, Tom, Myrtle, and Gatsby with their twisted love relationships, Jordan seems to be indifferent and set apart as does Nick. She offers comfort to him later although after Myrtle’s death he becomes cold to her, completely disgusted with everyone in the East. Baker has been friends with Daisy for many years and remembers Gatsby from when he and Daisy first met.

Myrtle Wilson: Longing for wealth, she was heartbroken after learning that George had borrowed his suit for their wedding. Tom Buchanan offers her presents and fancy clothes when the two begin having an affair and she is hopeful that he will leave Daisy to be with her. Running into the street in front of the gas station to escape her maniacal husband, Myrtle is run over and killed by Daisy driving Gatsby’s station wagon.

George Wilson: A ‘sick man’ as Nick described him, he runs a broken-down gas station in the ash heap. Oblivious to his wife’s affair until discovering the dog collar Tom had bought for her, he goes mad with rage and locks her inside, declaring that he is going to take her away to the Midwest. After his wife’s death, he goes crazy and goes on a shooting rampage, killing Gatsby, and then himself.

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The Great Gatsby Plot and Character Summary. (2021, Feb 27). Retrieved April 22, 2021, from https://essayscollector.com/essays/the-great-gatsby-plot-and-character-summary/