At the onset of this book, the reader is introduced to the narrator, Nick Carraway, who relates the past happenings that construct the story of Jay Gatsby and Nick during the summer of 1922. After fighting in World War I, or the Great War as Nick called it, Nick left his prominent family in the West of America for the North where he intended to learn the bond business. Nick was originally supposed to share a house in West Egg near New York City with an associate of his, but the man backed out and so Nick lived with only a Finnish cook. Right next door, Gatsby lived in a glorious mansion with expansive gardens and a marble swimming pool, among other luxuries. Yet Nick did not even hear about Gatsby until he went to visit his distant family at East Egg next to West Egg.
Daisy was Nicks second cousin once removed, and Tom Buchanan was Daisys hulking brute of a husband and classmate of Nicks from college. Jordan Baker, a prominent tennis player of the time, was staying with Daisy and Tom. As they sat down and chatted, it was Jordan who mentioned Gatsby, saying that she had been to one of his extravagant parties that he held every weekend. The four sat down to dinner when Tom received a phone call, which Daisy suspected to be from Toms mistress. Afterwards, Daisy and Nick talked and Jordan and Tom went out to walk about the grounds. Daisy talked about her little daughter and how when she was born Tom was not even there and she had wished out loud that she would be a fool, for that was the only way she could ever be happy. The four met again at the house and then Jordan went to bed and Nick went home.
In the next chapter, the reader is introduced the bleak stretch of land between New York City and West Egg. It was there that Nick first met Toms mistress. Nick and Tom were taking the train into New York City one Saturday when Tom signaled to Nick that they were going to get off the train halfway to their destination in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere. Tom walked into an auto garage where he talked with a man named George Wilson, who asked about a car Tom was supposed to sell him. Wilsons wife, Myrtle, emerged from the upstairs of the garage. When Wilson went off to his office for a moment, Tom quickly told Myrtle that he wanted to see her and to take the next train into New York. They arranged where they would meet quickly and moved away from each other before Wilson returned. Myrtle told Wilson that she was going to go visit her sister in New York and boarded the same train as Tom and Nick, but in a different car. They met again in New York and took a taxi to the apartment that Tom had purchased for the two of them. Myrtle called her sister Catherine and the McKees that she and Tom were friends with on the phone and the six of them sat around in the apartment and got exceptionally drunk once they arrived. During this time, Nick learned about Tom and Myrtle, as well as the fact that neither of them could stand their spouse. Nick could hardly remember what had gone on that night at the apartment and the next thing he knew, he was in Penn Station waiting for the four o clock train to go home.
Every weekend, Nicks next door neighbor Gatsby had extravagant parties at his house. One Saturday morning, Gatsbys butler came to Nicks house and invited him to the party that was to be held that evening. Nick showed up that night, not knowing a soul there, and not even knowing what the host himself looked like. He soon found Jordan, and spent the rest of the evening with her. Nick found himself speaking with a man he recognized from the war. Nick told him that he did not even know who the host was, but that he had just been invited by him. The man looked puzzled and then told Nick that he was Gatsby. Both were embarrassed and apologized to each other. At that moment, a butler appeared and told Gatsby of a phone call that he had to attend to. Gatsby excused himself and said that he would talk to Nick later that night. Nick then rejoined Jordan. Later, the butler came up to Jordan and asked her to speak to Gatsby privately. Nick waited around for an hour before the two emerged, and then said goodbye to Jordan and Gatsby and went home.
One July morning, Gatsbys car rode up Nicks driveway and proclaimed that the two of them were going out to lunch and that he would drive them. On the ride there Gatsby told Nick the story of his life thus far, most of which Nick found out to be false later that summer. Gatsby told him that he was from a wealthy family in the Midwest and was educated at Oxford. He said that all of his family died and he came into a lot of money. He then fought in World War I and earned many awards for his valor and bravery. He then told Nick that he was going to make a large request of him, but that he could not ask him himself and Jordan was going to tell him later that day when they went out to tea.
The two men arrived in New York City and met with Meyer Wolfshiem, the man who fixed the World Series in 1919, for lunch. He reminisced about past years while they ate lunch before he excused himself and left the two men. Nick then recognized Tom and introduced Gatsby and Tom to each other. Before the three could begin talking, Gatsby had left.
That afternoon, Jordan explained the story of Gatsby and Daisy, and how they fell in love, but then Gatsby had to leave for the war. Before he could get back, Daisy had married Tom, thinking that Gatsby would never return. Daisy had not heard of Gatsby until that night that Jordan had mentioned him to Nick at Daisy and Toms house. And it was not a coincidence that Gatsby lived so close to Daisy; he had bought that house so that he could be just across the bay from Daisy. Gatsby wanted Jordan to ask Nick if he could invite Daisy over for tea so that Gatsby could pop in. Nick, shocked at the simplicity of the request, agreed.
Nick arranged plans for the tea with Daisy and Gatsby, telling Daisy specifically not to bring Tom. On the planned day and in pouring rain, flowers and a gardener to mow the lawn arrived from Gatsbys estate. Gatsby showed up, extremely nervous and regretting the whole idea. Just as Gatsby was about to go home, Daisy pulled up in the driveway. Nick let her in to find that Gatsby was gone. Then there was a knock on the door and Nick let in a drenched Gatsby. For a while, there was nothing but awkward pauses between the three people, but after much prodding from Nick, Daisy and Gatsby began to talk. Then Gatsby suggested that the three of them go to look at his house. They toured most of the rooms and then stopped in one of them so that one of Gatsbys permanent guests could play the piano for them. The two of them hardly noticed when Nick left for his house.
For several weeks, Nick did not see nor hear from Gatsby. Then one Sunday, Nick stopped over to visit and he was not there for more than a few minutes before someone had brought Tom Buchanan over for a drink. It was a party of three; Tom, a man named Sloane, and a woman that Nick had seen previously. They had all ridden there on horseback and were now sitting around with drinks. After a while, the girl invited Nick and Gatsby over for dinner, much to the displeasure of Sloane. Nick refused, but Gatsby agreed after some coaxing. As Gatsby went inside to get a jacket and his car keys, the three tired of waiting and rode off without him.
The next Saturday evening, both Daisy and Tom attended Gatsbys party. Gatsby introduced them to all of the different people at the party. Gatsby and Daisy danced and then went over to Nicks house to talk as Nick stood guard. They then sat down for dinner while Tom went off with some other group. Nick and Gatsby could both tell that the only part of the party that Daisy had enjoyed was when she and Gatsby had spoken privately. Tom came back while Gatsby was receiving a phone call and inquired as to Gatsbys profession, listing several rumors he had heard that night including a bootlegger. Then Daisy and Tom went home while Nick waited for Gatsby to be free after Gatsby had said he wanted to talk to him. When Nick finally met with Gatsby, Gatsby was depressed because Daisy did not enjoy herself. Nick suggested that maybe it was not possible for Gatsby to repeat the past with Daisy, a notion that Gatsby quickly rejected.
The next Saturday, Gatsby failed to have a party as he always did before. Out of curiosity, Nick went over to Gatsbys house to inquire in Gatsby had fallen ill. An unfamiliar butler answered that he was not and then reluctantly went to inform Gatsby that Nick was there at his request. He then promptly slammed the door in Nicks face. Nick was notified by his cook that Gatsby had fired all of his servants and replaced them so that he would not have servants telling the entire town about his private affairs.
The next day Gatsby called Nick on the phone. At Daisys request, Nick was invited to her house for tea with Jordan and Gatsby the next day. That day was the hottest of the summer, and Gatsby and Nick waited before the butler led them into the salon where Jordan and Daisy reclined and Tom rushed in and out answering phone calls and getting drinks. After much tension, the group decided to go into New York. Daisy and Gatsby went in Toms car and Tom, Jordan, and Nick went in Gatsbys car. Tom had to stop for gas at Wilsons garage. Wilson informed Tom that he was taking his wife out west and that he had just recently figured out that his wife was cheating on him. He currently had her locked up in her room and was going to force her to come with him before she could get away. Tom drove off and quickly caught up with Daisy and Gatsby. They pulled up to them and discussed what they were going to do, finally deciding on meeting at the Plaza Hotel. When they arrived there, the group determined to rent a room for an afternoon. The tension mounted and Tom began to ask Gatsby questions about his past that Tom had apparently researched into previously. Tom revealed that Gatsby really was not an Oxford man as he had led people to believe. Tom continued to verbally assault Gatsby as Daisy tried to stop him. Finally, Gatsby burst out that Daisy never loved Tom and urged Daisy to say the same. Reluctantly, Daisy admitted that she never loved him, but then broke down and admitted that she had. Tom insisted that he would take better care of Daisy, but then Daisy replied that she was leaving him. Then Tom went on about how Gatsby was involved with Meyer Wolfshiem and the bootlegging business and other illegal moneymaking schemes. Daisy looked horrified and Gatsby quickly began to deny everything but Daisy just begged to go home. So Gatsby and Daisy started home in Gatsbys car, and the other three of the group started towards home later.
While this was going on, Wilson and his wife were arguing with each other. Myrtle saw the car she saw him in that afternoon and thinking that it was Tom driving the car, ran out in front of it in hopes that he would stop and take her away. But it was Daisy driving and because she was speeding excessively, she did not even see Myrtle until it was too late. Myrtle was instantly killed, but Daisy kept going before she past out and Gatsby was forced to take the wheel and drive home. He hid his car in his garage and he and Daisy took a taxi to her house. Tom, Jordan, and Nick came across the scene later on. Out of curiosity, they stopped to see what had happen. Tom shouldered himself to the center of the mob that had surrounded Myrtle. Tom was shocked to see Myrtle and hastily found out what had happened. When he was told that it was a yellow car that did not even stop, he immediately blamed Gatsby. Tom went over to Wilson and told to pull himself together, for he was a wreck, but it was in vain. Tom then announced after instructing someone to stay with Wilson at all times that he was going to leave, and Jordan and Nick followed.
The three of them arrived at the Buchanan residence and Tom went inside. Jordan lingered and invited Nick in, but he said he would just order a taxi and go home. Jordan went inside and as Nick was walking down the driveway he saw Gatsby in the bushes. Gatsby explained to Nick what had happened and that he intended to take the blame for Daisy. He was waiting by her window because he promised her that he would. Daisy was to flash the lights on and off if she needed help. He planned to wait there all night if necessary, and that is where Nick left him.
The next morning, Nick went over to Gatsbys house and they sat around together for a while, Gatsby half-waiting for Daisy to call. Gatsby explained to Nick how he had fallen in love with her. After they had finished breakfast, Nick had to leave to catch his train for work. Gatsby decided to use the marble swimming pool that he had not used all summer long. He informed his butler to only to let the most important calls through, still hoping that Daisy would call.
Several men had watched George Wilson all night long. When the last lingering one had left to go next door to make a pot of coffee, Wilson left his garage with a gun. He walked all the way to West Egg, and came into the Buchanans house. He knew that Tom knew whose yellow car had hit his wife, and he demanded Tom to tell him at gunpoint. Tom did, and Wilson left for Gatsbys mansion. While at work, Nick sensed that something was wrong, and came home on the train. He drove directly to Gatsbys house and asked where Gatsby was. Apparently the chauffeur had heard the shots, but thought nothing of them. The butler and Nick went to the pool in search of Gatsby, and found him dead in the pool. On returning to the house to tell the police, they saw Wilson off in the woods, dead.
In the next few days, there was nothing but photographers, reporters, and policemen. Nick called Daisy to tell her, but she and Tom had already left for a lengthy vacation in Europe. He also called Meyer Wolfshiem, but got no answer. He visited him in his office, but Wolfshiem said that he could not get involved with Gatsby right now. He also did not know of any of Gatsbys family, which Nick was trying in vain to reach. Three days after Gatsbys death, a telegram was sent from Henry Gatz in Minnesota, saying to postpone the funeral until after he arrived in New York. He was Gatsbys father and he reached East Egg a few days later. Nick let him in and showed him the house. The man was greatly impressed with what he son had achieved in life, and cried for the loss of his son for most of the day. On the rainy day of Gatsbys funeral, Nick, Gatsbys father, and one other man who had frequented Gatsbys parties often that summer were the only ones there.
After Gatsbys death, the East haunted Nick. That fall, he decided to go back home. All of the people he knew were gone in some way, except for Jordan. He went up to her one day and talked to her about what had happened to every one that summer, including themselves, and how everything seemed to have fallen apart. She agreed and then told Nick that she was engaged to another man. Nick walked away and never saw her again. Later that fall, Nick ran into Tom, who explained what had happened to Daisy and himself. He said that he told Wilson about Gatsby, and he felt completely justified in his actions. On the last night before Nick went back home, he went over to Gatsbys house. It had gone into disrepair and the ghosts of the parties of the summer still lingered.
The Great Gatsby was a singular story that expressed the views, beliefs, and actions the socially elite of nineteen-twenties America. This specific story displayed a period of time. The author developed a theme of the carelessness of the rich, how the rich with old money treat the ones with new money, and how money and class separate people. Showing characters of all of these types of people and showing how they behaved and how their life ultimately unfolded did this. Fitzgerald helped to set the time period by substituting real people as fictional characters in his books, such as Meyer Wolfshiem. He also used many real geographical locations, like the Plaza Hotel and New York City to place his fictional characters. This was so that it seemed that the characters in his book could have easily existed in the real 1922 as they did in their fictional 1922. F. Scott Fitzgerald was not biased for or against the rich in writing this book, he was simply trying to chronicle the lives and times of the early part of the 20s. His lack of a bias is what makes his book such an accurate description of the era that he wrote about. This book should be considered required reading because it introduces the reader to what life was like for the rich at that time, as well as the general mood that pervaded the decade. It speaks of concepts such as bootlegging, gambling, and new money, ideas that previously were not commonly written of. F. Scott Fitzgerald can be considered an authority on the twenties because he lived in the twenties with the type of people that were described in his book.
In writing this book, commonly refered to as the Great American Novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald achieved in showing future generations what the early twenties were like, and the kinds of people that lived then. He did this in a beautifully written novel with in-depth characters, a captivating plot, and a wonderful sense of the time period.
F. Scott Fitzgerald; The Great Gatsby; Simon and Schuster Publishing; 1925; 189 pages