Gatsby Summary Essay, Research Paper
Jay Gatsby is one of the most interesting and memorable males in fictional literature, even
though he is not a dynamic and changing character during the novel. In fact, Jay Gatsby has
changed little since he was a teenager. Born as James Gatz to poor farmers in North Dakota, he
decided at an early age that he wanted more out of life than North Dakota could offer. He leaves
home to find excitement and wealth. While lounging on the beach one day, he sees a yacht
docked off the coast. He borrows a boat and rows out to introduce himself to the owner of the
yacht. Dan Cody is an extremely wealthy and wildly extravagant man. He takes a liking to young
James Gatz and offers him a job. When the boy boards the boat to become Cody’s assistant and
protector, he leaves behind the identity of James Gatz forever; the rest of his life he will be
known as Jay Gatsby, an incurable and idealistic romantic who fills his life with dreams.
After Cody dies, Gatsby joins the army and is stationed in Louisville, Kentucky, where he meets
and falls in love with Daisy Fay, the most popular and wealthy young lady in town. She is also
attracted to him and even thinks about marrying him and running away, but her parents stop her
plans. When Gatsby is sent to Europe to fight the war, Daisy is faithful to him for a short while.
She soon, however, tires of waiting for Gatsby and marries Tom Buchanan. When Gatsby
receives her final letter, explaining her plans, he is crushed; he vows he will dedicate the rest of
his life to winning Daisy back for himself. He is sure that if he amasses a large enough fortune,
he will be able to manipulate time, erasing Daisy’s marriage and fixing her future with him.
Gatsby comes to the East Coast and makes a fortune in bootlegging and other questionable
business activities due to the help of characters such as Meyer Wolfsheim. He buys an
ostentatious mansion on West Egg, in order to be directly across the bay from Daisy Buchanan.
He gives his wild, extravagant parties and drives his flashy automobiles in hopes of attracting
Daisy’s attention. She has become his reason for being – his holy grail. Gatsby never loses sight
of his dream and often reaches out to the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock.
When the story begins, Nick Carraway has moved in next door to him. Gatsby befriends the
young man and then learns that he is a distant cousin of Daisy Buchanan. He persuades Nick to
have both Daisy and him for tea. Their reunion at Nick’s house leads to an affair. Although the
level of their involvement is not indicated in the book, Gatsby does say she often comes to his
house, and she kisses him on the mouth when her husband walks out of the room. Obviously to
the reader and subconsciously to Nick, Daisy is simply playing with Gatsby’s heart, using him as
a relief from her boredom and as a retaliation against her cruel, unfaithful husband. Gatsby,
however, has put her on such a pedestal that he cannot see any of Daisy’s faults. He also naively
believes that he will lure Daisy away from Tom and erase her past life with her husband.
When Tom realizes that his wife has a relationship with Gatsby, he confronts “the enemy.” He
calls Gatsby a Mr. Nobody from Nowhere and accuses him of not going to Oxford and making
his money illegally. Daisy half-heartedly comes to his aid, encouraging Gatsby into a foolish
confrontation. He tells her husband that Daisy has always loved him and never loved Tom; he
even forces Daisy to repeat the words to her husband, which she says with no sincerity. When
Tom questions her about whether she can really forget all of their memories, she admits she
cannot. She turns to Gatsby and says that she loves him now and that should be enough. It is not
enough, however, for Gatsby, for it destroys his dream. Tom knows that he has won the battle;
Daisy will always be his wife. As a result, he confidently lets Daisy ride home with Gatsby in his
“circus wagon” car.
Daisy insists to Gatsby that she drive in order to calm her nerves. As they approach the Valley of
Ashes, Myrtle, Tom’s mistress, runs out towards the car, believing Tom to be inside. Daisy hits
the woman, killing her immediately. The shallow, careless, immoral Daisy does not even stop.
At this point in the novel, Gatsby begins to show his true worth. He tells Daisy to stop and return
to the accident, but she refuses. He then pulls up the emergency brake and takes the driver’s seat
himself. He has already made the decision that he will pretend he was driving all along and take
the blame for the accident. He is still blinded by his dream and unable to see that Daisy is not
worthy of any sacrifice. She fully proves this when she returns home and casually eats fried