The Great Gatsby Summary

It could be a love story, but this story is exclusively about money.

Historical and Cultural Background of the Events of the Novel

It was America of the twenties. In 1918 the First World War ended, and yesterday's young fighters are looking for their place in the tumultuous life of megacities. From the pre-war era, this generation inherited the notion of an "American dream," it is a dream of personal happiness and success, wealth and prosperity. But if earlier success was inextricably linked with work, efforts, now the American dream has acquired a completely different shade. After the introduction of the Dry Law a new way to make money appeared. This is an underground trade through which Jay Gatsby earned his millions. Such new wealthy people in one way or another connected with crime in the postwar years compete with aristocrats like the Buchanan couple in ways to spend money.

The twenties were a real consumption boom, a time when huge sums of money were descended on completely unnecessary things and entertainment. In the book, we see that the Buchanan, Gatsby, and all other wealthy inmates of New York are spending their fortunes in absolutely unthinkable ways.

The Image of Daisy and the American Dream

The American dream is one of the main components of the meaning of the "Great Gatsby." So, people no longer strive for personal success; now they just want to make money, spend it and consume it. But, as it turns out, this does not make them happy. The main characters of the film, besides the narrator, Nick Carraway, have everything that goes into the notion of the American dream.

Tom has a wife of unearthly beauty, wealth and noble origin. But is he happy? No; he can not be satisfied only with Daisy, and although he enjoys her company in public and feels strong proprietary feelings toward her, the company of social-born Myrtle Wilson is much closer to him. Daisy confesses to Nick at the very beginning of the story that her life is boring and joyless: her husband does not like her, she knows perfectly well about his mistress, she does not care for her daughter's upbringing, but apparently all the attributes of the owner of the American dream are available such as a rich husband, a beautiful house, outfits. Finally, Gatsby, he did everything himself, at his disposal is a whole castle, he arranges parties for the whole of New York. For the full happiness, he lacks Daisy, and he is as unhappy as she is, and as Tom Buchanan.

For the Sake of Love

It's worth considering Jay Gatsby's feelings for Daisy Buchanan. Why is he trying so hard to reunite with her? At first, Daisy's character for the reader is unclear; the imagination of Gatsby draws her as the most beautiful, most impeccable girl. However, the closer to the denouement, the more obvious is the fact that Daisy does not deserve such a characteristic. She is empty, reckless; her passion for Gatsby has long since outlived, and now their relationship is just the result of the bore of her current marriage. But for Gatsby himself, she is a living embodiment of the American dream. While someone is chasing wealth for consumption, Gatsby makes money for Daisy. But, having learned about his origin, Daisy begins to hesitate, and she lacks the courage to leave Tom. Daisy is too empty and petty for a man of such a broad soul, as Gatsby. And at the same time, America, the land of dreams, does not justify the expectations of those who pursued the American dream. So the tragedy of Jay Gatsby reflects the disappointment of a whole generation of Americans.

The Role of Details in Revealing the Meaning of the "Great Gatsby"

Throughout the book, many details, which at first seem insignificant, acquire additional meaning and help clarify the essence of the author's idea.


The weather is not just a background, but a significant detail that sets a certain tone for the events that are taking place. On the day of the first meeting between Gatsby and Daisy over Long Island, heavy rain fell. The rain symbolizes despair, a loss of hope, and Gatsby really lost faith in the fact that Daisy will even come to the meeting. However, during their meeting, the downpour stops and the sun comes out; it is a metaphor for renewal, the awakening of love.

Another important, emotionally charged moment in the story is that the confrontation between Gatsby and Tom in the Buchanan home occurs on an incredibly hot day. Finally, in the final of the Great Gatsby, the weather sets the tone again: Wilson kills Jay on the first day of autumn when the yellow leaves cover the cold pool. Autumn is the time of withering, for Gatsby it literally means death, for Daisy - the death of their love affair, for Nick - the loss of a loved one, the only one he loved.


Phone calls are haunting the characters on every page.

The way that each of them uses the phone characterizes the characters in a certain way. The phone in the Buchanan's house is ringing gloomy during Nick's visit. Daisy knows that the mistress of her husband is calling. The telephone in the Gatsby mansion is quite different: he is only called to the phone for the case, but we know that these are criminal cases. Finally, the image of the phone call gets the most power in the finale of the "Great Gatsby." Jay is waiting for a call from Daisy, he is so sure that she will call, that he orders to take the device out on the street so as not to miss the ring. However, instead of Daisy, Nick calls him and he was the only one who really worries about the fate of Gatsby. But Gatsby himself will never know this because, indirectly, a phone call that has lured him out of the pool causes him to die.

Green Lantern

The green lantern on the Buchanan pier is a symbol of a dream, of fruitless hope, for which Gatsby was chasing. This is another reflection of the American dream, it's so beautiful, but distant, inviting, but empty inside. On one of the pages, Jay Gatsby reaches out for a spark that glimmers away, on the other side of the bay. This inner, unshakable hope became the core of Gatsby's character, and also because of its incredible power, he was so respected by Nick.

Dr. Ecklberg's Eyes

A sullen look from under Dr. Ecklberg's glasses on a half-grown advertising poster is a very strong, but at the same time absolutely empty symbol. This view is compared with the eyes of a God who watches what is happening on the Earth. In the novel, Fitzgerald makes it clear that this symbol makes sense when it is filled with meaning by the people themselves. Thus, the doctor's eyes are a symbol of emptiness and senselessness of everything around him. Similarly, other places, objects and people are meaningful only because someone fills them with meaning. The American dream is significant only for those who believe in it. New York is a city of hope and success for Nick only as long as he does not lose his faith in people. Daisy is the perfect girl for Gatsby just because he made her that way in his dreams.

The Meaning of the Finale

"The Great Gatsby" is a novel about hopes and dreams, mostly insolvent. This is a story about people pursuing elusive goals. Those heroes who pursued wealth and idleness were unhappy. Gatsby, who made the meaning of his life a love for Daisy, found his death. According to the will of bitter irony, Gatsby died because of his nobility - he took over the killing of Myrtle, although it was due to Daisy's fault. Tom and Daisy were saved by their cowardice - Tom made Wilson believe that Gatsby was the lover of Myrtle, Daisy humbly hid behind Tom's back. The only person whose life goal was not connected with material values was Nick Carraway. He wanted to become a writer, but then strange, external values knocked him out of the way. In pursuit of wealth, he parted with his dream, was carried away by the luxury and idle life of New York. However, here, too, he found what placed him above the crowd of idlers surrounding him. It was a friendship with Gatsby, absolutely disinterested and based on sincere respect. After the death of Gatsby, Nick for a long time could not recover and again find the lost meaning of his existence. But in the finale, we see that Nick is finishing a novel dedicated to his deceased friend. Thus, the only person whose goals were higher, wider than material acquisitions, was able to realize himself. He became a writer and told the world about a man whom he admired - about the Great Gatsby.