1. In Chapter one we meet the narrator, Nick Carraway. These first four paragraphs serve as a prologue that introduces the rest of the story. What information does Nick give us about himself in this prologue?
2. What does Nick say is gorgeous” about Gatsby? (Find the quotation in the fourth paragraph.)
3. In the same paragraph, Nick tells us of his disillusionment with mankind. In your opinion is it Gatsby or something else that causes this disillusionment? (Be prepared to defend and/or explain your answer.)
4. What is Nick’s socio-economic background?
5. When Nick returns from the war, why does he decide to go East?
6. The action in this story takes place over the course of one summer. What occurs that makes Nick feel that his life is beginning over again?
7. How is West Egg different from East Egg?
8. Before meeting him, what do we learn of Tom Buchanan?
9. Find the words used to describe Daisy’s most noticeable feature.
10. At this point, what is your opinion of Daisy?
11. Daisy says, “Tom’s getting very profound.” What do you think her tone might have been? Present support for your answer.
12. At this point, why does Nick observe, “There was something pathetic in his [Tom’s] concentration…”?
13. We find out that Tom has a woman in New York. What unflattering feature of Jordan Baker’s personality is revealed?
14. When the telephone rings a second time, why does Nick say, “No one was able utterly to put this fifth guest’s shrill metallic urgency out of mind”?
15. Why is Nick’s instinct “to telephone immediately for the police”?
16. What three sentences indicate that Nick thinks Daisy’s cynical outburst is fake?
17. What is the reader left to think about Daisy’s emotional state and her relationship with Tom?
18. Who is Jordan Baker, and what has Nick heard about her?
19. Daisy says, “I think the home influence will be good for her [Jordan].” What do you think her tone may be? Offer support for your answer.
20. As Nick drives away from their house, he experiences a number of conflicting emotions. Why does he feel touched? Why does he feel confused and disgusted?
21. At the end of this chapter, Nick sees Gatsby on the lawn and is about to call to him but does not. What stops him? What does Gatsby’s “trembling” suggest?
22. The green light that Gatsby is staring at is mentioned several more times, and it assumes a symbolic significance. Where do you think the green light might be?
23. The differences between the East (the East Coast, particularly New York) and the Midwest (Minneapolis, Louisville, and Chicago) are mentioned frequently. What does Nick say about each?
The MIDWEST The EAST
1. The description of the “valley of ashes” opens Chapter Two. On a literal level, what is the valley of ashes? What might it represent on a symbolic level?
2. Compare and/or contrast
George Wilson And Tom
Myrtle Wilson And Daisy
3. In what way does Fitzgerald indicate that Myrtle Wilson is not an intellectual?
4. At the party in the apartment, what social classes are represented and by whom?
5. In what social class does Nick belong?
6. In what way is the party in the apartment different from the dinner at the Buchanans’ in chapter two? Why does Fitzgerald bring them into the story?
7. The McKees appear only in Chapter Two. Why does Fitzgerald bring them into
8. Notice how often and in what context Doctor Eckleburg’s eyes are mentioned.
What may be the significance of these eyes?
9. Do you think Tom will leave Daisy for Myrtle? Support your answer.
1. Find support for this statement: “Gatsby’s parties were expensive, elaborate, raucous affairs; but they were not gatherings of his friends who brought warmth and happiness with them.”
2. What is Nick’s opinion of the people at the parties when he says “that once there, the guests “conducted themselves according to the rules of behavior associated with amusement parks”?
3. Explain Nick’s comment, “It was testimony to the romantic speculation he [Gatsby] inspired that there were whispers about him from those who had found little that it was necessary to whisper about in this world.”
4. Why do Jordan and Nick leave the group from East Egg?
5. What is the great quality in Gatsby’s smile?
6. What do Gatsby and Nick have in common?
7. What does Fitzgerald subtly wish to convey about Gatsby when he has Nick say, “…I was looking at an elegant young roughneck,...whose elaborate formality of speech just missed being absurd. Sometime before he introduced himself I’d got a strong impression that he was picking his words with care”?
8. Why do you suppose that Jordan does not believe Gatsby when he says that he had attended Oxford College in England?
9. In what way is Gatsby’s behavior at his party quite unlike the behavior of most of his guests?
10. What do you think Fitzgerald wishes to convey about Gatsby’s parties through the incident with the drunks and the car and the husbands and wives arguing?
11 What is the purpose of the last section of this chapter that begins, “Reading over what I have written so far...”?
1. Since most of his guests ignore him, why do they come to Gatsby’s house?
2. In the list of guests, what further indication is there that the old money is in East Egg and the new money in West Egg?
3. Why is Nick a little disappointed with Gatsby?
4. Why does Nick have to restrain his laughter when Gatsby says he is “…trying to forget something very sad that had happened to me a long time ago”?
5. What does this conversation reveal about Gatsby?
6. Why does Nick say that listening to him “was like skimming hastily through a dozen magazines”?
7. What changes Nick’s mind about the veracity of Gatsby’s stories?
8. Who is Meyer Wolfsheim, and what do we know of him?
9. With the line, “One October day...” Jordan recalls the time in 1917 when she saw Gatsby and Daisy together. What indication is there that Daisy really likes Gatsby?
10. How does Daisy behave the night before her wedding? Why?
11. From whom do you suppose the letter in her hand comes, and what do you think the letter may have said?
12. To what is Nick referring when he says, “Then it had not been merely the stars to which he [Gatsby] had aspired on that June night”?
13. What is happening in the relationship between Nick and Jordan?
1. What does Nick mean when he says, “I realize now that under different circumstances that conversation might have been one of the crises of my life. But because the offer was obviously and tactlessly for a service to be rendered, I had no choice except to cut him off there”?
2. In this chapter, what stages does Gatsby go through as he waits for and then meets with Daisy?
3. How does Daisy react to the meeting? Try to point out several specifics throughout the chapter.
4. When Nick asks Gatsby what business he is in, Gatsby responds, “That’s my affair,” before he realizes that it is not an appropriate reply. Why does Gatsby give that answer, and why isn't it an appropriate reply?
5. Why does Gatsby throw all his shirts on the table?
6. Obviously, Daisy, with all her money, is not going to cry over some shirts; why does she cry?
7. As the three of them look across the bay toward Daisy’s house, the narrator states, “Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one.”
What does Fitzgerald mean by:
A. “Compared to the great distance” between Gatsby and Daisy?
B. “Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one?”
8. In the third to last paragraph of this chapter what does Nick mean when he says, “even that afternoon Daisy tumbled short of his dreams–not through her own fault...”?
1. in the first five pages of Chapter Six, we learn of Gatsby’s background and more about his romantic disposition.
A. Who are Gatsby’s parents and what is he leaving when he leaves home at 16?
B. When and why does James Gatz change his name to Jay Gatsby?
2. Nick says, “So he [Gatsby] invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end.” For James Gatz, what will the ideal Jay Gatsby be, do, and have? Specifically, at night, what sets James’ heart “in a constant, turbulent riot” (seventh paragraph)?
3. To young Gatz, what does Dan Cody’s yacht represent?
4. Why doesn’t Gatsby get the $25,000 left him in Cody’s will?
5. Referring to the aftermath of Dan Cody’s death, at the end of the first part of Chapter Six, Nick says, “He [Gatsby] was left with his singularly appropriate education; the vague contour of Jay Gatsby had filled out to the substantiality of a man.” In your own words, explain Nick’s two points.
6. Knowing Tom as we do, how can we account for his comment about being “old-fashioned” and “women run[ning] around too much these days to suit [him]”?
7. What is Daisy’s opinion of Gatsby’s party?
8. While the reader can have easily predicted Daisy and Tom’s reactions to his party, Gatsby cannot. Why not?
9. When Gatsby says that he cannot make Daisy understand, what is it that he wants her to understand?
10. What is Nick’s view of repeating the past, and what is Gatsby’s opinion? Why is Gatsby’s opinion unrealistic?
1. How is the behavior of the characters linked to the hottest day of the summer?
2. What does Tom discover that unnerves him, and how does he discover it?
3. What does Gatsby understood about Daisy’s voice that Nick does not?
4. In what cars do the five of them travel into the city?
5. Why do you suppose that Tom decides to let Wilson finally have the car he has been promising him?
6. What indication is there at this point that Tom means quite a bit to Myrtle?
7. Besides Myrtle’s, what other eyes “kept their vigil”?
8. As always, there is a grain of truth in what Gatsby says. In what sense is he an Oxford man?
9. What does Nick mean and why does he say, “Angry as I was…, I was tempted to laugh whenever [Tom] opened his mouth. The transition from libertine to prig was so complete”?
10. Why does Daisy say that Tom is “revolting”?
11. Why does Daisy have a tough time saying, as Gatsby wishes, that she never loved Tom?
12. Why is it important to Gatsby that Daisy say she never loved Tom, only him?
13. How has Gatsby gotten some of his money, and what does Tom say that startles Gatsby?
14. What is Daisy’s reaction to this news?
15. How does Fitzgerald prepare the reader for what is about to happen? What words are used? What figure of speech is employed?
16. Why does Tom make the point to Wilson that he just drove the coupe from
New York and the yellow car is not his?
17. What indication is there that Tom really is fond of Myrtle?
18. Why does Nick not wait for the taxi inside the Buchanans’ house?
19. What does the reader learn Tom does not know?
20. What is the scene that Nick observes taking place between Tom and Daisy in the kitchen?
21. Why does this scene suggest ill for Gatsby?
1. Why does Nick say... “[Gatsby] couldn’t possibly leave Daisy until he knew what she was going to do. He was clutching at some last hope and I couldn’t bear to shake him free”?
2. At this point, why does Gatsby tell everything to Nick?
3. In what way is Gatsby’s uniform an “invisible cloak”?
4. Why is the young Gatsby drawn to Daisy?
5. As he is leaving, why does Nick say to Gatsby, “They’re a rotten crowd....You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together”?
6. What is the cause of the problem between Jordan and Nick?
7. In what context do Dr. Eckleburg’s eyes appear in this chapter?
8. When Wilson disappears for three hours, where do you guess he might have gone?
9. What does Nick mean when he says, “If that was true [that Gatsby might have realized that Daisy was not going to call] he must have felt that he had lost the old, warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream”?
10. How can Wilson’s actions at the end of this chapter be explained?
1. Why does Nick feel responsible for getting people to the funeral? Why do you suppose Wolfsheim reacts the way he does?
2. What does young Jimmy Gatz’s daily schedule say about him?
3. Is Nick surprised that Daisy has not sent a message or flowers? Are you?
4. Throughout the story, Nick has criticized the West. At this point, what is it about the middle-west that he appreciates?
5. Nick’s fantastic dream involves El Greco figures. What is the dream, and what might this dream represent in regard to Nick’s present feelings about the East?
6. What is Nick’s final feeling about Tom and Daisy?
7. In the last three paragraphs, Nick makes the symbol of the green light very concrete. What does the green light symbolize?
8. Keeping these three paragraphs in mind, what does the last sentence in the story mean?