In The Great Gatsby, how was Jimmy Gatz's childhood schedule consistent with the adult Gatsby's behavior?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Perhaps the most amazing fact about the daily schedule Jimmy Gatz' followed during his boyhood in North Dakota is the fact that he kept one. Furthermore, reading the carefully structured division of the hours in Jimmy's young life gave Nick much insight into the man Jimmy Gatz became--Jay Gatsby of West Egg. The enormously wealthy Gatsby seems far removed from the poor farm boy he once was, but in some essential ways, he never changed.

As a boy, Gatsby was completely focused and self-disciplined in the pursuit of his goals. Out of his entire day, for instance, only thirty minutes was set aside for play (baseball and sports). The rest of his day consisted of work and self-improvement activities, such as "Study needed inventions." Even as a boy, he was determined to succeed and wasted no time in the effort.

As an adult, that focus, concentration, and self-discipline remained an integral part of his character. Once he loved and lost Daisy, getting her back into his life and recreating their past became his one --and only--goal, the entire focus of his life. And so Gatsby worked to make money, not for the wealth itself but because wealth became his means to the end--Daisy. His work consisted of criminal activities (the fastest route to money), but work he did. Gatsby did not drink, and he still did not play. He still wasted no time. He didn't attend his own parties. Staging his elaborate parties was merely another way of working toward his objective, to lure Daisy to his home some evening. The fabulous West Egg figure of mystery and glamour was still the North Dakota farm boy; he just had more money.

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The Great Gatsby

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