The Great Gatsby Summary and Study Guide
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 9 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 10 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Class and Gender.
The Great Gatsby, despite its brevity, is typically viewed as one of the most artistically successful American novels of any period. Sadly, it is widely known that F. Scott Fitzgerald benefited very little from this novel financially, and died thinking it a failure in terms of public and critical opinion.
Gatsby has to do with a small cast of characters living on Long Island a few years after the end of WWI. This is a period of great expansion and prosperity prior to the Great Depression. It is also the era of Prohibition, when liquor was illegal in America and yet vast sums were made by those willing to break the law to feed the public need for alcohol.
The novel begins when the narrator, Nick Carraway, moves to Long Island after returning from the Great War. Although he is from the Midwest, he feels restless after the war, and believes that the East Coast is more interesting and exciting than his original home.
After he locates to the fictional town of “West Egg” and begins his job as a bond salesman, Nick becomes reacquainted with a distant cousin, Daisy, and her husband, Tom Buchanan. Both are from very wealthy families, and Tom is a successful businessman. Nick also meets their friend, Jordan Baker, a professional female golfer. Tom and Daisy live on East Egg, the more prestigious counterpart to West Egg. It turns out that Tom has mistress, Myrtle Wilson, the wife of a gas station and car dealership owner.
The other important person that Nick meets is Jay Gatsby, his neighbor. Gatsby is extremely rich and holds lavish parties at his home, but has few close friends. He invites Nick to one of his parties, and they become acquainted. Jordan approaches Nick to inform him that Gatsby and Daisy were once romantically involved, and asks Nick’s assistance in facilitating a reunion.
Gatsby and Daisy begin an affair, and soon it becomes apparent to Tom. He despises Gatsby, and informs Daisy that Gatsby is a criminal. This is indeed true: Gatsby is not from a family with money, but instead a self-made alcohol smuggler from a modest Midwestern family. After the revelation, Daisy and Gatsby drive away, and Daisy runs over Myrtle by accident.
The two do not stop the car, and later Tom convinces a distraught Wilson that Gatsby drove the car. Wilson pursues Gatsby and murders him, then commits suicide. None of Gatsby’s party guests, nor any of his criminal associates, attend his funeral. Disillusioned, Nick makes up his mind to return to the Midwest.