Study Guide

The Great Gatsby

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby Analysis

Places Discussed (Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Gatsby’s mansion

Gatsby’s mansion. Garish, multilevel home located on “West Egg.” The narrator Nick Carraway describes it as colossal, as ostentatious as it is roomy. Situated on forty acres, the mansion is the site of numerous glitzy and riotous parties thrown by Gatsby, hoping to pique Daisy Buchanan’s interest. The mansion, however, is much more than a lure for Gatsby’s long lost love; it is a symbol of the man himself and his dream of materialism as a vehicle to success both literally and romantically. Gatsby’s home parallels his persona—grand, mysterious, and richly adorned. It is the emblem of a successful businessman and the symbol of what he hopes to recover in Daisy and her love. The mansion is also a representation of a shortsighted American Dream: that material success, in and of itself, will bring one status and happiness. Unfortunately, the dream is based on hollow underpinnings, on the vacuous Daisy and the misguided concept that large amounts of money can be made and used without responsibility. Conversely, the mansion serves also as a symbol of Gatsby’s vision, aspiration, idealism, and belief in the American Dream of the self-made man. Thus, it is simultaneously a symbolic representation of the “great” Gatsby and of the flawed one. Ultimately, Nick Carraway describes the mansion as “that huge incoherent failure of a house.” The mansion exists as both a vision and failure of such a vision.

East Egg

East Egg and West Egg. Fictionalized opposing peninsulas of Long Island Sound described as resembling a giant pair of eggs. They are contrasted in terms of fashionableness, color, and type of wealth. The East Egg mansions glitter along the water; they are more chic and are representative of older, Eastern, inherited wealth. The West Egg residences are more derivative and imitative, representative of the nouveau riche, affluent newcomers not yet accepted into the highest echelons of wealth. It is Gatsby’s habitation in West Egg that denotes his aspiration to a social status that seems unattainable. The Buchanans, who reside on East Egg, represent the arrogance of an exclusive clique who attend Gatsby’s parties and share in the fruits of his wealth but who essentially despise him. Tom Buchanan, who has inherited his fortune, does not value it in terms of the traditional American ethics of hard work, integrity, fairness, and success coupled with responsibility. The two Eggs also represent the larger framework of an East symbolic of European antiquity, old money, and corruption, and a West symbolic of independence, new money, and the pioneering spirit. Certainly Nick Carraway values Western ideals over Eastern, and at the conclusion of the novel he returns, in a westerly direction, to the traditional and conservative Midwest whence he came.

Valley of Ashes

Valley of Ashes. Generally considered to be Flushing in New York City’s borough of Queens, this place exists as a gray, dead, powdery area—even the homes seem to be composed of ashes—passed by motorcars on their way to New York. Here Myrtle and George Wilson live and operate a garage and gasoline station. The valley is a metaphoric representation of the wasteland the American Dream becomes when ethics and morals are disassociated from it. The valley is also the locus of those, such as George and Myrtle, who are victimized by the arrogant wealthy who base their lives on pleasure, avoidance of boredom, and dishonesty. If East and West Egg are two renditions of attainment of the American Dream, the Valley of Ashes is its demise. Literally it is the site where Daisy kills Myrtle, without compunction, and George decides to murder Gatsby. Finally, overlooking the valley are the giant blue eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg, who stares down on the ashes from a billboard. A central symbol of guilt, judgment, and God, it invests the valley with a moral intensity that allies the novel with existential themes and statements about the moral bankruptcy of the modern world, a vast gray, ashen wasteland.

*New York City

*New York City. Certain integral scenes take place in this city and often entail irresponsibility, adultery, violence, and drunkenness. New York is where Tom Buchanan takes his mistress, where Nick witnesses Tom brutalizing her, where Gatsby reveals his illicit love affair with Daisy, and where a lot of alcohol is consumed. Symbolically, the city represents careless consumption and irresponsible immorality. New York in the 1920’s was a glittering den of writers, socialites, wealthy entrepreneurs, and other moneyed persons who were known for their extravagance and excesses.

The Great Gatsby Historical Context

A speakeasy, where people could illegally purchase alcohol during Prohibition in the 1920s. Published by Gale Cengage

The Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties
The Jazz Age began soon after World War I and ended with the 1929 stock market...

(The entire section is 937 words.)

The Great Gatsby Setting

Set in the summer of 1922, most of the story takes place in the fictitious New York towns of East and West Egg, Long Island, and in New York...

(The entire section is 115 words.)

The Great Gatsby Quizzes

Chapter 1 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Who is the narrator of the story?

2. What is the significance of the white space between paragraphs 4 and 5?

3. From what part of the country does Nick originally come?

4. Why has Nick moved to New York?

5. How does Nick come to live next door to Jay Gatsby?

6. Where had Nick known Tom Buchanan before?

7. What is Jordan Baker’s relationship to Daisy Buchanan?

8. What does Nick learn from Jordan when Tom is called to the phone?

9. What is the “secret society”?

10. What does Nick see Gatsby doing at the end of the chapter?

1. Nick...

(The entire section is 251 words.)

Chapter 2 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is the Valley of Ashes literally?

2. Who or what is Dr. T. J. Eckleburg?

3. What is George Wilson’s occupation?

4. What items does Myrtle purchase in the city?

5. What is significant about Myrtle’s questioning whether the dog is a boy or girl?

6. Who is Catherine?

7. What effect does the change of dress have on Myrtle?

8. How does Myrtle talk about the help at the hotel?

9. What rumor has Catherine heard about Gatsby?

10. How does Catherine explain to Nick the affair of Myrtle and Tom?

1. It is an area, something like an isthmus,...

(The entire section is 293 words.)

Chapter 3 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What kinds of cars does Gatsby use to transport guests?

2. How do the guests behave?

3. What does Nick wear to the party?

4. How does Gatsby interact with the guests?

5. What observation does Owl Eyes make about Gatsby’s library?

6. What is Nick’s first opinion of Gatsby?

7. What happens at the end of the party as the guests are leaving?

8. What does Gatsby’s formal gesture of waving farewell remind us of?

9. What story does Nick recall about Jordan, and what is the catalyst for his remembering?

10. How does Nick provide a contrast, a foil character, to Jordan?


(The entire section is 261 words.)

Chapter 4 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is the date at this point in the novel?

2. Whom does Nick encounter at Gatsby’s party?

3. What is the suggestion about Henry L. Palmetto’s death?

4. In the description of Gatsby’s car, what is the significance of its being bright with nickel and swollen in its monstrous length with all kinds of boxes?

5. What phrase does Gatsby repeatedly use to address Nick and others?

6. In what country did Gatsby receive a medal “For Valour Extraordinary”?

7. Who fixed the World Series in 1919, according to Gatsby?

8. Why is Daisy’s reputation so pristine?

9. For how long has Gatsby been...

(The entire section is 222 words.)

Chapter 5 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Nick say Gatsby’s house looks like the World’s Fair?

2. How does Gatsby’s gardener help prepare for Daisy’s visit?

3. How does Gatsby dress for the rendezvous with Daisy?

4. Who is the Finn referred to in chapter 5?

5. How long has it been since Daisy and Gatsby had seen each other?

6. What does Gatsby’s maid do when leaning out a central bay window?

7. In what way are the various rooms in Gatsby’s mansion described in historical terms?

8. Who was Gatsby’s first benefactor?

9. What part does nature play in the rendezvous?

10. Who provides the musical background...

(The entire section is 212 words.)

Chapter 6 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. In what state did Gatsby grow up?

2. What was his real name?

3. What was Dan Cody’s background?

4. Who was Ella Kaye?

5. How much was to have been Gatsby’s inheritance from Cody?

6. Why did he not receive it?

7. What is the significance of the threesome not waiting for Gatsby?

8. Why was Daisy appalled at Gatsby’s party?

9. How did Tom charge Gatsby with making his money?

10. In what season of the year had Gatsby met and kissed Daisy?

1. Gatsby was reared in North Dakota.

2. He was named James or Jimmy Gatz.


(The entire section is 201 words.)

Chapter 7 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Gatsby let all his domestic help go?

2. Whom does he use instead?

3. Why do the characters decide to go to New York?

4. What does Pammy wear when she comes into the room?

5. What does Gatsby say about Daisy’s voice?

6. What does Tom drive to New York?

7. Who rides with Gatsby?

8. What comment does Tom make about drug stores?

9. Of what does Tom accuse Gatsby?

10. How old is Nick at the party?

1. He dismisses them to accommodate meetings with Daisy and her wish for privacy.

2. He uses connections of Wolfsheim’s, people...

(The entire section is 170 words.)

Chapter 8 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How late does Gatsby stand outside Daisy’s house, waiting to see if she needed him?

2. Why is Gatsby’s house unkempt?

3. Why does Nick advise Gatsby to go away a while?

4. Where had Gatsby met Daisy, according to the story he tells Nick?

5. What might Fitzgerald mean in describing Daisy’s porch as “bright with the bought luxury of starshine”?

6. Why didn’t Gatsby return to Daisy immediately after the war?

7. When Gatsby returned to Louisville, where was Daisy?

8. Why is the chauffeur about to drain the pool?

9. Why does Gatsby ask him to wait?

10. After learning who owns...

(The entire section is 216 words.)

Chapter 9 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How is Gatsby’s death explained by the press in local newspapers?

2. How does Catherine respond to questions about her sister?

3. How does Wolfsheim’s letter attempt to explain his not attending the funeral?

4. Who is Henry C. Gatz?

5. Why does Klipspringer call?

6. When Nick locates Wolfsheim’s office and demands to see him, what is ironic about the situation?

7. How does Wolfsheim remember Gatsby?

8. Why did Gatsby continue to wear Army uniforms?

9. What could Nick mean when he concludes, “This has been a story of the West, after all—”?

10. What is the meaning of the...

(The entire section is 267 words.)