What are some examples from the first 5 chapters relating the central theme of the American Dream?how gatsby represents the american dream F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An essential aspect of the American Dream for Jay Gatsby is that money is the all-important factor. For him, America is the Land of Opportunity with the promise for financial success. 

Chapter 1

Gatsby moves to West Egg where he can be near Daisy, where he can stand on his manicured lawn, "trembling," staring at the single green light at the end of her dock.

Chapter 2

In the New York apartment, Myrtle Wilson's sister Catherine mentions to Nick that she went to a party at Gatsby's; she has heard that he is related to Kaiser Wilhelm--"that's where all his money comes from."

Chapter 3

This chapter contains almost poetic descriptions of Jay Gatsby's house and parties:

There was music from my neighbor's house through the summer nights. In the blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars....On week-ends his Rolls-Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city, between nine in the morning and long past midnight....

Every two weeks, caterers arrive and set up canopies where there are buffet tables overburdened with delicacies.  A bar with a real brass rail is set up and well-stocked.  By 7:00 p.m. a full orchestra arrives replete with "oboes and trombones and saxophones and violas and coronets and piccolos and low and high drums."

Young Englishmen move around the tables embellished with gold and brass and talk in "low earnest voices to solid and prosperous Americans."  They are "agonizingly aware of the easy money in the vicinity."  Other guests move around frivolously.  One girl says, "I never care what I do, so I always have a good time." As they move around, more rumors circulate about Gatsby's supposed German relatives.

As Nick and the others look for Gatsby, Nick comments, "It was a testimony to the romantic speculation he inspired."  In the library, Owl Eyes is impressed with Gatsby's leather-covered books that are real,

"It's  a triumph.  What thoroughness!  What realism!....

When Nick first encounters Gatsby at the party, he does not know who he is and says,

"This is an unusual party for me.  I haven't even seen the host.  I live over there...and this man Gatsby sent over his chauffeur with an invitations."

Then, the man identifies himself as Gatsby and gives Nick "one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance."

Chapter 4

Jay Gatsby's car takes on almost mythological qualities with its "labyrinth of windshields that mirrored a dozen suns" and "fenders spread like wings," Nick finds him balanced on the dashboard of his car with "that resourcefulness of movement that is so peculiarly American."  As they drive, Gatby tells Nick about himself: "I didn't want you to think I was just some nobody."  He gives Nick a souvenir from his days at Oxford, where he was supposedly educated.

Chapter 5

Gatsby has Daisy come to his house to view his riches.  "At two o'clock a greenhouse arrived from Gatsby's....An hour later the front door opened nervously and Gatsby in a white flannel suit, silver shirt and gold colored tie hurried in."

Nick and Daisy find "Marie Antoinette music rooms" until they come to Gatsby's bedroom where he pulls out a "pile of shirts," throwing them before Daisy, who buries her head in them, sobbing "They're such beautiful shirts."

But, Gatsby does not understand how money works in society as he expects to be able to buy anything, especially Daisy in "the colossal vitality of his illusion" as Nick concludes.

Read the study guide:
The Great Gatsby

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