Nick Carraway, the narrator. A young Midwesterner who was dissatisfied with his life at home, he was attracted to New York and now sells bonds there. He is the most honest character of the novel and because of this trait fails to become deeply fascinated by his rich friends on Long Island. He helps Daisy and Jay Gatsby to renew a love they had known before Daisy’s marriage, and he is probably the only person in the novel to have any genuine affection for Gatsby.
Jay Gatsby, a fabulously rich racketeer whose connections outside of the law are only guessed at. He is the son of poor parents from the Middle West. He has changed his name from James Gatz and becomes obsessed with a need for making more and more money. Much of his time is spent in trying to impress, and become accepted by, other rich people. He gives lavish parties for people he knows nothing about and most of whom he never meets. He is genuinely in love with Daisy Buchanan and becomes a sympathetic character when he assumes the blame for her hit-and-run accident. At his death, he has been deserted by everyone except his father and Nick.
Daisy Buchanan, Nick’s second cousin. Unhappy in her marriage because of Tom Buchanan’s deliberate unfaithfulness, she has the character of a “poor little rich girl.” She renews an old love for Jay Gatsby and considers leaving her husband, but she is finally reconciled to him. She kills Tom’s mistress in a hit-and-run accident after a quarrel in which she defends both men as Tom accuses Gatsby of trying to steal her from him; but she allows Gatsby to take the blame for the accident and suffers no remorse when he is murdered by the woman’s husband.
Tom Buchanan, Daisy’s husband. The son of rich Midwestern parents, he reached the heights of his career as a college football player. Completely without taste, culture, or sensitivity, he carries on a rather sordid affair with Myrtle Wilson. He pretends to help George Wilson, her husband, but allows him to think that Gatsby was not only her murderer but also her lover.
Myrtle Wilson, Tom Buchanan’s mistress. She is a fat, unpleasant woman who is so highly appreciative of the fact that her lover is a rich man that she will suffer almost any degradation for him. While she is with Tom, her pretense that she is rich and highly sophisticated becomes ludicrous.
George Wilson, Myrtle’s husband, a rather pathetic figure. He runs an auto repair shop and believes Tom Buchanan is really interested in helping him. Aware that his wife has a lover, he never suspects who he really is. His faith in Tom makes him believe what Buchanan says, which, in turn, causes him to murder Gatsby and then commit suicide.
Jordan Baker, a friend of the Buchanans, a golfer. Daisy introduces Jordan to Nick and tries to throw them together, but when Nick realizes that she is a cheat who refuses to assume the elementary responsibility of the individual, he loses all interest in her.
Meyer Wolfshiem, a gambler and underworld associate of Gatsby.
Catherine, Myrtle Wilson’s sister, who is obviously proud of Myrtle’s rich connection and unconcerned with the immorality involved.
Mr. and Mrs. McKee
Mr. and Mrs. McKee, a photographer and his wife who try to use Nick and Tom to get a start among the rich people of Long Island.
Mr. Gatz, Jay Gatsby’s father who, being unaware of the facts of Jay’s life, thought his son had been a great man.