Take the expert-level Gatsby test!
1. In what sense is The Great Gatsby an autobiographical novel? Does Fitzgerald write more of himself into the character of Nick or the character of Gatsby, or are the author’s qualities found in both characters?
2. How does Gatsby represent the American dream? What does the novel have to say about the condition of the American dream in the 1920s? In what ways do the themes of dreams, wealth, and time relate to each other in the novel’s exploration of the idea of America?
3. Compare and contrast Gatsby and Tom. How are they alike? How are they different? Given the extremely negative light in which Tom is portrayed throughout the novel, why might Daisy choose to remain with him instead of leaving him for Gatsby?
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The Great Gatsby (SparkNotes Literature Guide Series)
full title · The Great Gatsby
author · F. Scott Fitzgerald
type of work · Novel
genre · Modernist novel, Jazz Age novel, novel of manners
language · English
time and place written · 1923–1924, America and France
date of first publication · 1925
publisher · Charles Scribner’s Sons
narrator · Nick Carraway; Carraway not only narrates the story but implies that he is the book’s author
point of view · Nick Carraway narrates in both first and third person, presenting only what he himself observes. Nick alternates sections where he presents events objectively, as they appeared to him at the time, with sections where he gives his own interpretations of the story’s meaning and of the motivations of the other characters.
tone · Nick’s attitudes toward Gatsby and Gatsby’s story are ambivalent and contradictory. At times he seems to disapprove of Gatsby’s excesses and breaches of manners and ethics, but he also romanticizes and admires Gatsby, describing the events of the novel in a nostalgic and elegiac tone.
tense · Past
setting (time) · Summer 1922
settings (place) · Long Island and New York City
protagonist · Gatsby and/or Nick
major conflict · Gatsby has amassed a vast fortune in order to win the affections of the upper-class Daisy Buchanan, but his mysterious past stands in the way of his being accepted by her.
rising action · Gatsby’s lavish parties, Gatsby’s arrangement of a meeting with Daisy at Nick’s
climax · There are two possible climaxes: Gatsby’s reunion with Daisy in Chapters 5–6; the confrontation between Gatsby and Tom in the Plaza Hotel in Chapter 7.
falling action · Daisy’s rejection of Gatsby, Myrtle’s death, Gatsby’s murder
themes · The decline of the American dream, the spirit of the 1920s, the difference between social classes, the role of symbols in the human conception of meaning, the role of the past in dreams of the future
motifs · The connection between events and weather, the connection between geographical location and social values, images of time, extravagant parties, the quest for wealth
symbols · The green light on Daisy’s dock, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg, the valley of ashes, Gatsby’s parties, East Egg, West Egg
foreshadowing · The car wreck after Gatsby’s party in Chapter 3, Owl Eyes’s comments about the theatricality of Gatsby’s life, the mysterious telephone calls Gatsby receives from Chicago and Philadelphia