How can Gatsby be described as 'lost' in "The Great Gatsby?"

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jay Gatsby, as a member of the lost generation, is a veteran of World War I, who comes home confused by the Great War and how it changed society's perception of life.  After WWI, there was a shift toward the pursuit of material possessions and an abandonment of morality.  In the midst of prohibition, Gatsby becomes a very successful bootlegger and becomes enormously rich.

He had met Daisy when he was a soldier and fallen in love with her.  Daisy marries another man.  This does not change Gatsby's love for her, and he pursues her even though she is married.

The concept of Gatsby being lost in the book has to do with the fact that he seems very unfulfilled in his life.  He gives fancy parties just to see Daisy. He is very rich, but the only thing he values is Daisy.

"Gatsby's parties are vulgar, in spite of his polite manners, and he lacks a sense of security despite the outward manifestation of his ego. Nevertheless, his loyalty to his dream and idealism mark him as one of the tragic heroes in American literature."

Gatsby never really had a future with Daisy, his pursuit  and temporary relationship with her only intensifies his feelings of loss. 

In the end, Gatsby is blamed for the death of Myrtle, who was struck by a car, driven by Daisy.  Gatsby dies because of his devotion to Daisy and his desire to protect her, and shield her from blame .    

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The Great Gatsby

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