“The Great Gatsby” is a 1925 novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, that follows a cast of characters going through “life’s adventure” in the fictional towns of West and East Egg on Long Island, in the summer of 1922.
Critics didn’t approve much of “The Great Gatsby” when it first came out in 1925. Having mixed reviews, the book sold poorly, only 20.000 in the first year of its appearance.
Scott Fitzgerald died in 1940, thinking himself to have been a failure. However, it was during World War II that it knew a revival and became part of the school curricula.
The plot revolves around a young and mysterious millionaire named Jay Gatsby, from North Dakota, with shady business connections. During World War II, he was a military officer stationed at the United States Army’s Camp Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. It was in Kentucky that Jay Gatsby met Daisy Buchanan, a young debutante, identified as a flapper. They fell in love, but Gatsby was sent overseas. As a response, Daisy decided to marry Tom Buchanan, a former Yale football star from Chicago.
Though Gatsby seems to have it all, he longs for the one thing he couldn’t have because of his modest upbringing. Since money had kept him away from his love, he did everything in his power to remedy that aspect of his life. Now, his only purpose is to be reunited with his lost love.
The mystery is everything people know about him. He is the missing element to the parties he throws in the hope that Daisy might walk in and find him there. He doesn’t live across the bay from Daisy by accident but by choice.
Around Jay Gatsby
Nick Carraway is a Yale University graduate from the Midwest. He is a World War I veteran and a newly arrived resident of West Egg, around 30 years of age. An easy-going, charismatic young fellow, optimistic in the beginning, Nick Carraway also serves as the first-person narrator of the novel. He is Gatsby’s neighbor and a bonds salesman, who gets invited to one of Gatsby’s parties.
Young Nick also gets a dinner invitation to his second-cousin, Daisy, who lives with her husband in East Egg. At their house, Nick meets Jordan Baker, a flapper and young golf champion, who tells Nick about Tom’s mistress. Jordan was Daisy’s childhood friend, a young woman of superficial character. She becomes Nick’s friend.
There’s no feelings or ideas regarding the way Daisy, Tom, Jordan or Gatsby live their life. Nick refrains from voicing an opinion regarding Tom’s mistress, Miss Wilson Myrtle. He just sits quietly as Tom and Myrtle entertain people in the apartment in the city. She seems enthusiastic to buy a dog and receives an expensive dog collar from Tom, which she keeps on her nightstand. The collar was the only thing she is left with, as a faint memory of something that would never happen.
Life seems to go on for everybody in the book except for Jay Gatsby. He is the only constant, dreaming and hoping for one thing. To be reunited with his love. Daisy is the only piece that would complete his puzzle, without which he could never be complete.
The link between Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan is Nick Carraway. He will be the bond between the two, providing that unique opportunity for them to meet.
Seems to be closer than ever the moment he confesses to Nick the role he was to play in his getting together with Daisy.
Gatsby’s plan seemed flawless. The one thing he didn’t take into account was Daisy’s reaction but that didn’t seem to bother him. He is overly confident of himself and the love Daisy has for him.
Time seems to stand still the moment they get together. A regular “Martin Eden”, Gatsby feels that he need to be worthy in the eyes of his love before they can be together.
Gatsby enchants her with his house and the nice things he prepared to impress her. For him, all that time apart was not of the essence, for he truly believed love can surpass everything. Was it the same for Daisy?
A great loss
Tom becomes aware of Jay Gatsby’s love for Daisy. Gatsby demands Daisy to confess her love for him and deny the love she might have felt for Tom. In all the chaos, there are collateral damages to be expected.
Tom’s lover, Miss Wilson gets ran over by Daisy, while driving Gatsby’s car. Everything happens so fast and unexpected.
A simple dream turns everything upside down. Gatsby’s desire to be reunited with Daisy ignores reality.
Daisy’s world moved on since they were first together. Gatsby’s world moved only on the outside to be able to fulfill the inside, the love part he was denied because of his modest upbringing.
Destinies get ruined in the middle of this love story, though it seems the love is now only one-sided.
Mr. Wilson finds the expensive dog collar and thinks Gatsby was his wife’s lover since it was his car that hit her to her death. As a result, Mr. Wilson kills Gatsby and then kills himself.
The great disappointment
Though Nick Carraway didn’t approve of Gatsby, in the beginning, he was the only one who stood by him in the end. His loyalty became even stronger when he found out that it was Tom Buchanan who pushed Mr. Wilson towards murder. Tom confessed to Mr. Wilson about the owner of the car that killed his wife. He might not have known George Wilson’s intentions but that’s no excuse for his behavior.
Nick Carraway felt like a pawn in a rich people’s game. If at first, he felt indifferent towards Gatsby, he ended up feeling sorry and remorse of not having been there for him. He admires Gatsby’s spirit and manner of behaving, regarding him in great spirit.
Daisy didn’t seem to care about anybody but herself. Even if she might have felt something for Jay Gatsby, time took care of her shallow feelings, whipping them out like a trace in the sand.
Tom Buchanan is a selfish individual, a rich man, who seems to think that the world is there only to do his bidding. The moment something doesn’t go his way, he blames everybody but himself. He seems a spoiled child who has to have everything without giving account for anything.
Jordan Baker is Daisy’s perfect friend, sharing the same superficial sense of the world. The world is there for the taking and playing around with it, no matter the consequences. All experience is suitable only to the extent when it turns into a great distraction for the three of them.
Takeaways from “The Great Gatsby”
Despite the fact that “The Great Gatsby” is a novel, it resembles reality. It shows us that, no matter how much we wish, sometimes things don’t materialize as we want them to.
Sometimes circumstances change and people change with them.
Other times circumstances stay the same as do people.
There are also those rare moments when people change their reality and circumstances to match their inner selves.
The downside of it is that the rest of the world stays the same and not only cannot understand the change but end up resenting it.
Life is about evolving, growing, and changing. Sometimes we live people and things behind in order to grow. Other times people around us grow together with us or because of us. Living in the past will not change our future no matter how much we would like that.
The only thing that Gatsby couldn’t let go of was the perfect image of the past. He was destroyed not because of the present Daisy but because she moved on from that point while Gatsby stood still.
As sad as it may be, life is all about timing.
One minute too early and you are not quite there, one minute too late and you’ve lost the date. The “minutes” and “inches” we need are all around us. We just have to find them and make them our own but don’t expect everybody else to do the same. When and if it happens, it’s a rare and pleasant coincidence, otherwise live as you are supposed to live because:
“yesterday cannot be changed, tomorrow is a mystery while today is a gift”.