Discuss Gatsby's five years as Cody's associate. Include his creation of a new persona.

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luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Young James Gatz knew as a boy that he wanted a life different from the one his parents had.  The inscriptions written in the book his father, Henry, brought to Jay's home after Jay died proved that.  When the teenaged James Gatz saw the luxurious yacht anchored in the lake, he knew that the yacht represented what he wanted in life.  When Dan Cody asked James his name as he thanked him for the advice to avoid anchoring where he was, James Gatz responded, "Jay Gatsby".  It was at that moment that James Gatz ceased to exist and Jay Gatsby was born.  Like a young child has to be taught how to walk, talk, etc., Jay Gatsby had to learn how to be Jay Gatsby, the wealthy, worldly man.  Dan Cody gave him a great deal of that education.  Cody took Jay on his yacht as a general helper in all areas, including taking care of him when he, Cody, got drunk and insensate.  During the five years that Gatsby traveled around the continent with Cody, Gatsby learned how to act among the wealthy people he wanted to emulate.  He was introduced to places he would have never had the opportunity to visit without the help of someone like Cody and he was introduced to people he would never have had the chance to meet without Cody.  He probably learned things about business, both legal and illegal. He probably dealt with both scrupulous and unscrupulous characters.  Cody gave Jay Gatsby the refinement to pull off being Jay Gatsby, the worldly man of money - even before he had any money.  It is doubtful that James Gatz would have ever had the ability to fool Daisy Fay into believing he was an officer who came from a wealthy family the way Jay Gatsby did.  Another important lesson Jay Gatsby learned from Dan Cody was to stay away from alcohol.  Gatsby undoubtedly saw that alcohol caused Cody to use bad judgement from time to time.  Since Jay Gatsby made his money dealing with mostly illegal situations, being alert at all times was important, so that lesson from Cody had great value.  Finally, Jay learned from Dan Cody that he great American dream of rags to riches was possible.  Cody made his fortune from mining metals, but he wasn't born into money.  Jay saw that he, too, could attain that dream if he worked at it.

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The Great Gatsby

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