The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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How is Jay Gatsby affected by materialism in The Great Gatsby?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Jay Gatsby was enchanted by the American Dream and amassing wealth in order to win Daisy Buchanan's heart after their brief romance back in Kentucky. Jay Gatsby hailed from North Dakota and grew up in a poor farming family. Upon courting Daisy Fay as a young military officer, Gatsby realized that he could never marry her because of his lower social status. After meeting Dan Cody and returning to the United States after WWI, Jay Gatsby became business partners with the shady Meyer Wolfsheim and entered the criminal underworld. Gatsby developed into a notorious bootlegger and amassed a fortune working alongside Meyer, which allowed him to purchase a magnificent mansion in West Egg.

While Jay Gatsby's intentions were pure, he compromised his morals, which were corrupted by wealth and materialism. Gatsby's desire to attain the American Dream coincided with his wish to marry Daisy, who was the epitome of wealth and beauty. Gatsby was willing to live a lie, engage in criminal activity, and risk his...

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belarafon eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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chapmanh | Student

Jay Gatsby is a man who finds his entire self worth in the opinion of one person: Daisy. He is hopelessly devoted to convincing Daisy that he is the man with whom she should spend the rest of her life and not her husband, Tom. He spends the entire novel attempting to convince Daisy that, while her life with Tom is comfortable, she is not enjoying herself. Materialism is the only way that he knows how to reach Daisy; in his mind, if he can just buy enough stuff, Daisy will come to her senses and realize that she is in love with him instead of Tom. All of the "things" that Gatsby possesses are nothing more than his continuous attempt at peaking Daisy's interest. This is evident even in his "backstory" which has been completely fabricated to support his new lifestyle he has created for himself.

In short, Jay Gatsby is a man who is more interested in showing the woman he pines for that he is able to give her much more than the man she has married. He neglects to realize that simply providing for a good time is not enough to cause her to uproot the life she has grown accustomed to.