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Why did Gatsby drop out of college? I thought it was because he was upset about...

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kahlil | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 17, 2007 at 3:41 AM via web

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Why did Gatsby drop out of college? I thought it was because he was upset about Daisy's letter - that is not the answer.

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mrerick | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted May 17, 2007 at 4:55 AM (Answer #1)

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Gatsby was frustrated at trying to pay his way through college by working as a janitor. "He stayed there two weeks, dismayed at its ferocious indifference to the drums of his destiny, to destiny itself, and despising the janitor's work with which he was to pay his way through."

So, he dropped out, started wandering the banks of Lake Superior, and eventually bumped into Dan Cody...thus follows the transformation of James Gatz into Jay Gatsby.

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 15, 2015 at 3:26 PM (Answer #2)

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Gatsby's dropping out of college was an important moment in this life. We find out that he attended a small college in Minnesota, St. Olaf's college (it's a real college, if you are wondering). Because Gatsby grew up poor, he had to work his way through college. He was a janitor to pay his tuition.

After two weeks he could not bear working because of the humiliation. So, he left and worked for a man whom he met as a fisherman on Lake Superior. This man, Dan Cody, took him under his wing. Cody was a self-made millionaire. 

Cody made Gatsby his personal assistant. On their subsequent voyages to the West Indies and the Barbary Coast, Gatsby became passionate about wealth and getting ahead. 

From this perspective, Gatsby's leaving college made all the difference in his life. From that point, his hunger for wealth, which was borne out of a desire to win Daisy, consumed his life. 

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