The Great Gatsby Discussion Questions
1. At the beginning, Nick explains his father’s attitude toward judging this morals of others, which specifically suggests that immoral acts are committed by those with fewer social advantages. By the end of the novel, he has become so disgusted with the East Coast world he’s inhabited that he returns to the Midwest. Do you think his attitude toward moral judgment has changed? Or does he retain the same class-based system of judgment that he began with?
2. Discuss the tension between realism and fairy tale in this novel. Do you consider this novel realistic? Why, or why not? In what ways does the novel fit the genre of fairy tale? In what ways does it depart?
3. What is the significance of the division between East Egg and West Egg? Does it symbolize the division in the world of the novel, between Eastern and Western America? From what Nick describes, can we see any evidence of the perceived difference between the two villages?
4. Discuss gender roles in the novel. Do you think that circumscribed gender roles are responsible for the tragic actions and fates of female characters in this novel? Are their immoral actions a form of rebellion?
5. What is your interpretation of the novel’s final few paragraphs? What does Fitzgerald mean when he says we move toward the past, despite striving forward? Does he mean “we” as a nation, or as individuals? Or both?
6. What is your interpretation of the Eckleburg billboard? What do you make of the fact that Wilson references God’s omniscience while staring at it? What does the billboard symbolize?
7. What role does war, or specifically WWI, play in this book? How has war shaped Gatsby and others such as Nick, or even Daisy, as far as you can tell?
8. Ethically speaking, discuss your thoughts about Jay Gatsby (James Gatz). Do you view him as a villain? If so, why does Nick tell him that Gatsby is better than the others?
9. What does the ash dump symbolize in the novel? Is there any symbolic meaning in its location, between West Egg and East Egg?