The Great Gatsby Characters
The main characters in The Great Gatsby are Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway, Daisy and Tom Buchanan, and Jordan Baker.
- Jay Gatsby, born James Gatz, is a now-wealthy bootlegger in love with Daisy.
- Nick Carraway is the narrator of the novel. He befriends Gatsby and assists him in meeting Daisy.
- Daisy Buchanan is Nick’s cousin and the former lover of Gatsby.
- Tom Buchanan is Daisy’s domineering, patrician husband. He is having an affair.
Jordan Baker is Daisy's lifelong friend and a professional golfer. She and Nick strike up a romance.
Jay Gatsby embodies the American Dream, ascending from poverty to a station of immense wealth. He is born James Gatz and grows up on his family’s farm in the midwest. He attends college in Minnesota, working as a janitor to pay his tuition, until he meets Dan Cody, a wealthy gold miner. Cody takes Gatsby under his wing, mentoring him and introducing him to the lure of wealth and materialism. Gatsby remains Cody’s protege until Cody’s death, at which point Gatsby joins the army. (Read our extended character analysis of Jay Gatsby.)
Nick Carraway narrates the novel’s events. Nick comes from a well-to-do but unglamorous upper-midwest background. When he moves to New York, where he lives in a cottage next door to the Gatsby Mansion and sells bonds on Wall Street, he is reunited with his cousin Daisy Buchanan. As a crucial link between long-lost paramours Gatsby and Daisy, Nick falls into the rushing current of the plot. (Read our extended character analysis of Nick Carraway.)
Daisy is a “golden girl,” born with money, beauty, and status. All throughout her life, her beauty and wealth have made men covet her, and she has honed her charms well. However, despite her advantages, Daisy appears to be an unhappy cynic, married to an unfaithful husband and left hoping that her daughter will be a “beautiful fool,” as she once was. (Read our extended character analysis of Daisy Buchanan.)
Tom Buchanan is a brute who embodies the preening, power-hungry narrow-mindedness of the East Egg elite. Nick, who knew Tom from their time at Yale, remarks that Tom was once an incredibly talented football player. While still wealthy and physically imposing, Tom, at the young age of 30, is already past his prime. Tom seems to be drifting through life, seeking out some “irrecoverable football game.” (Read our extended character analysis of Tom Buchanan.)
Jordan Baker is the childhood friend of Daisy Buchanan. A professional golfer, she quickly attracts the attention of Nick Carraway, and the two begin a romantic relationship. Nick is initially taken in by Jordan’s apparent detachment from the rest of the elitist East Egg society. However, she quickly proves to be just as vapid and dishonest as the rest of the “secret society.” (Read our extended character analysis of Jordan Baker.)
In addition to the characters above, Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby includes many minor characters. For more information about these characters, read more about them on their own page.