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In The Great Gatsby, what rumors have been told about Gatsby? Why does Fitzgerald...

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ripie8 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 11, 2012 at 3:04 PM via iOS

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In The Great Gatsby, what rumors have been told about Gatsby? Why does Fitzgerald reveal rumors rather than fact?

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writergal06 | Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted December 11, 2012 at 4:20 PM (Answer #1)

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There are several rumors circulating about Gatsby, mostly about how he made his fortune. Bootlegging is the most common, and most probable, though all the others deal with criminal activity of some kind. There are also many speculations about where he came from, where he went to school, etc. 

The more significant aspect of this question is why Fitzgerald presents Gatsby's character through rumors. First, we are experiencing the novel through Nick's perspective. Therefore, the audience discovers information as Nick does. Nick doesn't find out Gatsby's true story until later on the novel (Chapter 6). Second, much of the appeal of Gatsby is his mystery. If we knew facts about Gatsby rather than rumors, the mystery would be gone. Finally, it is important to Gatsby's  psychological development that we get to know him in stages. By the time his true past is revealed, we are captivated and intrigued. As he tells Nick his true background, we move from captivated to sympathetic, an important transition for the ending of the novel to be fully felt. 

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