The Great Gatsby is a great novel for a few reasons, in my opinion.
Placing identity at the heart of the text is one of the thematic strengths of the book, and it is this decision that makes the book timeless. Nick and Gatsby both offer some very interesting insights, as characters, into the intricacies, the complex self-debate, and the difficulty of clarity involved in identity (and the process of developing identity).
Allowing the truth of Gatsby to be somewhat just beyond the grasp of the narrator also feels to me like a great strength of the novel. We can read this book a dozen times and still look at Gatsby as something of a mystery, despite Nick's dedicated attempts to capture him in narration. Gatsby becomes something specific for Nick, but remains set apart in the larger context of the novel, a sympathetic and compelling enigma.
To me, the greatest strength of the novel lies within the characterizations. Fitzgerald manages to give each of his characters depth in such a way that the reader feels a part of himself or someone he knows in each of the characters. Almost everyone, even the high school students who typically read The Great Gatsby, can relate to longing for something that seems unattainable. And most people know someone like Nick to which they can confide all of their secrets without fear of being judged - or they are that person themselves. Most people can even recognize and feel a twinge of sympathy for the bumbling Tom who hit the height of his lifetime as a high school and college football player and really has nothing left to live for.
It is these characterizations and those of the other characters in the text that make the novel so powerful, mostly because the reader who pays attention realizes that the end that befalls each of the characters could well be our own if we don't pay attention to the paths of our lives.
Although I didn't especially enjoy this novel, there's no denying Fitzgerald's skill as a writer. To see a masterpiece like "The Great Gatsby" is to be stunned by its brevity; it's not a very long novel! To be able to say so much in so few words, just by stringing them together a certain way is a rare artistic gift, one that eludes many of the very best writers. Fitzgerald did very much what the poet does with every poem he or she produces, saying everything while saying almost nothing.
I think the previous posts are very appropriate. I think that my own feeling why I think that this book is so meaningful to the concept of modern America is that it exposes that the pain which exists at all is the pain of nothingness. Fitzgerald through both style and character developments creates characters who have to wrestle with this aspect of nothingness. Some of them choose to find their own diversion from it, others have to deal with the harsh brutality of nothingness, while some confront it and seek to find a new form of life with this understanding of nothingness in mind. I think that there is much within this concept that speaks so powerfully to what it means to be an American. The books are filled with the mythic conception of America. Reading Fitzgerald's work (and then reading Miller's "Death of a Salesman") brings new meaning to what it means to be an American and what it means to have to confront the reality of nothingness and how to navigate through its pain, while being conscious of it.
Those who admire this novel find it awesome for many different reasons--some of them personal--but critics often mention these remarkable strengths. Fitzgerald captures the time period, the Roaring 20s, in a manner unequaled in American fiction. Jordan Baker is the epitome of the 1920s flapper, and Gatsby's meteoric rise to wealth parallels the economic boom prior to the crash of the stock market in 1929. The character of Wolfsheim brings into the novel the elements of criminality and gangsterism that flourished during the era, largely due to Prohibition. Also, the novel is full of historical allusions.
The novel is superb, also, because of its themes and the way they are developed through the characters. The corruption of Gatsby and his original dream and the amorality of the Buchanans parallel what Fitzgerald considered to be the corruption of the American Dream itself. This theme is finalized and beautifully stated in the novel's coda when Nick goes down to the beach, watches the moon rise over "the old island," and thinks of the wonder of the sailors who first saw it. Beneath the beauty and glamour of East Egg lies an incredible ugliness.
Finally, reading Fitzgerald's beautiful and evocative prose is pure pleasure for anyone who loves the language of poetry.
The reason why i feel that this book is awesome is because of the style used in the great gatsby. We learn about gatsby through the eyes of nick carraway who is the narrator. We only get information about gatsby when nick wants to learn more about gatsby or hears something about him. The use of color and possibly religous imagery makes the book much more enjoyable. There are many interpretations for the great gatsby, i myself am still trying to gain a better understanding of the book.