F. Scott Fitzgerald

This Web-page is a compilation of different sources where you can find all the information that you need about the American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. In his books, Fitzgerald drew a reliable picture of American society during the Jazz Age (the 1920īs) There is also a little analysis made on his most famous work "The Great Gatsby"

INDEX

  1. Biography
  2. Works
  3. The Great Gatsby

Biography

  • A brief life of Fitzgerald
  • The jazz Age ( 1920īs)
  • Works

  • F.Scott Fitzgerald publications
  • Principal works about F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Great Gatsby

  • Summary
  • Principal characters
  • Main themes in the novel
  • Symbolism in The Great Gatsby
  • SUMMARY

    After his return from the "Teutonic migration known as the Great War," Nick Carraway felt too restless to work selling hardware in his Midwestern home town. He moved east to New York and entered the "bond business." Settling on the lowbudget side of Long Island in West Egg, Nick rented a bungalow next door to a mysterious, wealthy man-about-town known as Gatsby.

    Shortly after arriving in New York, Nick was invited to dinner at the house of Tom and Daisy Buchanan on the more-fashionable side of Long Island. Nick did not know either Tom or Daisy very well, but he was Daisy's second cousin and had attended Yale with Tom. Tom led Nick into a back room of the Buchanan house, where they found Daisy talking with her friend Jordan Baker, a haughty yet beautiful young woman who appeared to be "balancing something on her chin." By the time dinner was served on the porch, some untold tension was obviously building between Tom and Daisy, which climaxed after Tom left to answer a phone call. When he did not return, Daisy stomped inside to see what was keeping her husband. Jordan hushed Nick before he could speak - she wanted to eavesdrop on the Buchanans' muffled argument. Apparently Tom had met "some woman in New York... "

    When Nick arrived at his apartment that evening, he saw the figure of the reclusive Mr. Gatsby himself, who had "come out to determine what share was his of [the] local heavens." Nick almost called out to introduce himself to his neighbor, but something in Gatsby's manner told Nick that he was content just then to be alone. From what Nick could see, Gatsby was staring towards the city at a "single green light, minute and far away."

    A couple of days later, Tom invited Nick to meet his mistress. He led Nick off the commuter train into a sleazy, unkempt area filled with garbage heaps. From there, they made their way to a second-rate gas station owned by a "spiritless man" named Wilson. Under the pretext that he had a car he wanted to sell Wilson, Tom covertly arranged to meet Wilson's dowdy, plump wife, Myrtle, in New York. On the ride into the City, Myrtle, along with her sister and a few friends, sat judiciously in a train car separate from Tom's; then everyone took a taxi over to an apartment that Tom kept for his trysts with Myrtle. All that afternoon and evening the group drank whiskey and talked, while Nick tried unsuccessfully to find an excuse to leave. The party finally ended in a violent argument in which Tom broke Myrtle's nose.

    One of the few things Nick knew about Gatsby was that he threw lavish parties, where hundreds of people "came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars." Finally, Nick was invited to one of the affairs, where he again ran into Jordan, and they mingled with others in conversations about who exactly the curious Gatsby was; it seemed none of the guests had even had a close view of their elusive host. Rumors placed him as the Kaiser's son, or as a German spy During the War, or maybe a fugitive killer.

    As the party wore on, Nick and Jordan found themselves sitting at a table with a rowdy, drunken girl and a man about Nick's age. The two men began discussing their respective military service. Then Nick's new acquaintance introduced himself: he was Jay Gatsby.

    Much further into the evening, Jordan and Gatsby met in private to discuss something that Jordan said she was pledged not to reveal to anyone, not even Nick, until the right time.

    Weeks - and several parties - later, Gatsby arranged for Nick to have tea with Jordan, where she divulged the details of her conversation with Gatsby on the night of the party: It seemed that Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan had been well acquainted before the War. Gatsby at that time was a young lieutenant waiting to go to the front, and Daisy was "just eighteen ... by far the most popular of all the young girls in Louisville." They had fallen in love. Unfortunately, Gatsby did not have the financial means to marry a girl of Daisy's class. When he was sent overseas, Daisy had decided that she could not wait, and married Tom Buchanan instead. Jordan then told Nick that Gatsby, still in love with Daisy, wanted him to invite Daisy to his place some afternoon and then let Gatsby "conveniently" drop in. Nick agreed to set things up. And so, on a rainy afternoon, Gatsby and Daisy were reunited. After some nervous chitchat, Gatsby asked Daisy, along with Nick, to come next-door and see his place. As they moved from r

    The affair between Gatsby and Daisy went on for weeks, until one morning Gatsby unexpectedly asked Nick to lunch with him at Daisy's the following day.

    The weather was broiling hot as Nick entered the Buchanan house. Gatsby, Jordan, Tom and Daisy were all there, and, after some tension-filled conversation, including several subtle challenges between Tom and Gatsby, they all decided to drive to New York to escape the heat in a hotel room. Tom insisted on trading cars with Gatsby for the drive into the city, so Gatsby and Daisy took Tom's car while Tom drove with Nick and Jordan in Gatsby's new yellow roadster.

    As Tom sped towards New York, he decided to spin by Wilson's gas station to torment Mr. Wilson for a few minutes. At the station, Nick noticed Myrtle peering out her second-story window:

    Her eyes, wide with jealous terror, were not on Tom, but on Jordan Baker, whom she took to be his wife.

    Meanwhile, Wilson was relating to Tom how he suspected that his wife was involved with another man, and how the two of them would soon be moving west. Feeling slandered and confused, Tom punched the gas pedal and raced off toward the city.

    There is no confusion like the confusion of a simple mind, and as we drove away Tom was feeling the hot, whips of panic. His wife and his mistress, until an hour ago secure and inviolate, were slipping precipitately from his control.

    Arriving in New York, Tom's group met up with Gatsby and Daisy, and everyone retired to the Plaza Hotel to last out the heat sipping mint juleps. But soon Tom and Gatsby became embroiled in a heated argument. In anger, Gatsby roared that Daisy was in love with him now. What's more, he alleged that Daisy never did love Tom. Tom shouted that it was a lie, then turned to Daisy for acquittal. Although she wanted to side with Gatsby, she could not. "I can't say I never loved Tom .... It wouldn't be true," she stuttered; but then she tearfully turned to tell her husband that she was leaving him. Tom was devastated that Daisy would take up with a bootlegging, racketeering criminal.

    Gatsby headed for home in his roadster with Daisy at his side; Tom, Nick and Jordan drove a few miles behind. Suddenly, Tom's group came upon the scene of an accident in front of Wilson's gas station. A woman, Myrtle Wilson, had been run over and killed; the "yellow car" that had hit her hadn't even stopped. Tom, convinced that Gatsby had struck Myrtle, drove hurriedly on home. Tears streamed down his face. "The God damned coward!" he wimpered. "He didn't even stop his car."

    After they came to the Buchanan house, Nick, deciding he'd had enough for one day, stepped out front to hail a taxi. There, concealed in the shadows, he found Gatsby, and learned about what had really happened: Daisy, angered and confused, had demanded to drive Gatsby's car home. When they had passed Wilson's gas station, Myrtle, thinking it was Tom in the car, ran into the path of the speeding roadster. Now Gatsby was there in the yard to make sure Tom didn't hurt Daisy. In time Nick convinced the shaken man to go home; Daisy would be alriglit.

    All night George Wilson sat in a state of shock, weeping. By morning he had determined to punish the driver of the yellow car. He made his way to Tom's house. But Tom, fearing for his own life, lied, and told the distressed Wilson that Gatsby had been Myrtle's secret lover - and he was the owner of the yellow car. Crazed with grief, Wilson sped to Gatsby's estate. With the revolver he carried, he shot and killed the man as he swam in his pool. Wilson then turned the gun on himself.

    Nick tried to make Gatsby's funeral a respectable affair. But nobody came; only Nick, the minister, and Mr. Gatz (Gatsby's father from Minnesota) were there - not one of Gatsby's party friends or racketeering buddies, not Daisy, not Jordan Baker. At the cemetery, an unknown man "with owl-eyed glasses" appeared. In a thick drizzle, the four of them laid the great Gatsby to rest.

    ...Owl-eyes spoke to me by the gate.

    "I couldn't get to the house," he remarked,

    "Neither could anybody else."

    "Go on!" he started. "Why, my God, they used to go there by the hundreds."

    He took off his glasses and wiped them ....

    "The poor son-of-a-bitch, " he said.

    After that summer, Nick returned to his modest Midwest town, no longer in awe of the big-city lights.

    PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS

    Nick Carraway:

    Nick Carraway is the narrator of this story. As you can see on the first page Nick holds himself in higher esteem than the other characters in the novel. Even though Nick is the narrator he should not be completely trusted. On the first page he boasts about how he doesn't judge people yet throughout the story he's judging people. The only person who he envies though is Gatsby. On [page 2] Nick says about Gatsby, He has an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. Also, for someone with such high moral values he doesn't handle commitment very well. That's probably a main reason why he left the Mid West and it's part of why he ended up going back. Nick left the Mid West to be a stock broker in New York but didn't get rich, yet everywhere he looks these amoral people are rolling in the wealth. That's a clue to one of the main themes....

    Jay Gatsby:

    Gatsby is the rich, majestic, protagonist of the novel. While it isn't clear how he made all his money it is obvious that it was through illegal dealings in organized crime. There was a reference to the 1919 World Series, (That's the one where the players on the Chicago White Sox helped out organized crime by not trying their hardest when it counted). It is also clear that the driving motivation for getting all this cash is so that it will appeal to Daisy. Daisy was the rich girl that he fell in love with before he joined the service. Unfortunately he just didn't have enough money to keep her while he was overseas. When Gatsby got back she was married to someone else but that didn't disuade him in the least. Gatsby's whole efforts in this book are focused on trying to bring him and Daisy back to the point of time before he joined the army except this time he has enough money for her. Gatsby says it himself on [page 111], Can't repeat the past? Why of course you can!.

    Daisy Buchanan:

    Daisy is the woman Gatsby is trying to win back and coincidentally she is also Nick's second cousin. Daisy doesn't have a strong will and she cracks under pressure as will be shown late in the book in the hotel scene. She is the original material girl and focuses on the outward instead of the inward. Tom bought her love with a three hundred thousand dollar necklace, and now Gatsby is doing it with a huge mansion and a lot of nice shirts.(You'll understand the shirts thing when you read the part of the novel when Daisy first visits Gatsby's house).

    Tom Buchanan:

    Tom is the antagonist in this novel. While Gatsby was fighting in World War I Tom was using his wealth to sweep Daisy off her feet. Tom is a yuppy and clearly in the way of Gatsby's love for Daisy. He is having an affair, which he makes no attempt to keep secret, with Myrtle Wilson while stringing along Myrtle's husband on a business deal. He treats Myrtle even worse than Daisy because in his eyes Daisy is worth a three hundred thousand dollar pearl necklace while Myrtle is worth a dog leash. With that fact in mind it is reasonable to assume Fitzgerald is telling us that Tom considers Myrtle to be his pet dog. Tom is just the bad guy in this story and you could not possibly like him.

    Jordan Baker:

    Jordan is the woman in this story who connects Gatsby to Nick and consequently Gatsby to Daisy. Jordan is also a friend of Daisy's while she has something going with Nick during the story. She has short hair and plays golf which back in the twenty's was uncommon for women. Therefore you can assume she acts like a guy. She is very into the Roaring Twenty's party scene and is carelessly going through life. The carelessness comes out when she's driving with Nick

    Nick: You're a rotten driver, either you ought to be more careful or you oughtn't to drive at all

    Jordan: I am careful

    Nick: No you're not.

    Jordan: Well, other people are.

    Nick: What's that got to do with it

    Jordan: They'll keep out of my way, It takes two to make an accident

    Nick: Suppose you met somebody just as careless as yourself?

    Jordan: I hope I never will, I hate careless people. That's why I like you.

    This also tags her as a hypocrite when she says "I hate careless people" being a careless person herself.

    Myrtle Wilson:

    She's the woman Tom is having an affair with. She let's Tom push her around and treat her however he wants and she likes it. Tom has all the money and leads the life she wants to be a part of. She always thought she should have done better than her current husband and having an affair with Tom reinforces this belief of hers. Her current husband, George Wilson, is just a poor gas station owner in the Valley of Ashes who had to borrow a tuxedo for his wedding. Myrtle would rather be treated like a dog by someone who has money instead of being cared for by someone who has no money.

    George Wilson:

    George is married to a woman who resents him and is having an affair right under his nose without him knowing it. He runs a gas station which he lives above in the Valley of Ashes which is the dirtyest area of New York. The valley of Ashes has now become Queens if you were wondering where it was. That's not even the worst of it but I don't want to give up to much of the story so you'll just have to believe me. George Wilson is just the hard luck guy in this novel and he ends up taking it out on someone else in the end.

    Meyer Wolfsheim:

    While he may not be a major part of this novel he serves a purpose. He is Gatsby's connection to organized crime. He is the link that connects Gatsby to how he gained all his money. He supposedly in this novel is the one that fixed the World Series of 1919. He is also a close friend of Gatsby's.

    MAIN THEMES IN THE NOVEL

    This novel is filled with multiple themes but the predominate one focuses on the death of the American Dream. This can be explained by how Gatsby came to get his fortune. Through his dealings with organized crime he didn't adhere to the American Dream guidelines. Nick also suggests this with the manner in which he talks about all the rich characters in the story. The immoral people have all the money. Of course looking over all this like the eyes of God are those of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg on the billboard.

    The second theme that needs to be acknowledged is the thought of repeating the past. Gatsby's whole being since going off to war is devoted to getting back together with Daisy and have things be the way they were before he left. That's why Gatsby got a house like the one Daisy used to live in right across the bay from where she lives. He expresses this desire by reaching towards the green light on her porch early in the book. The last paragraph, So we beat on, boats against the current, born back ceaselessly into the past reinforces this theme.

    Fitzgerald was in his twenty's when he wrote this novel and since he went to Princeton he was considered a spokesman for his generation. He wrote about the third theme which is the immorality that was besieging the 1920's. Organized crime ran rampant, people were partying all the time, and affairs were common play. The last of which Fitzgerald portrays well in this novel.

    The eyes of T. J. Eckleburg convey a fourth theme in this novel. George Wilson compares them to the eyes of God looking over the valley of Ashes. The unmoving eyes on the billboard look down on the Valley of Ashes and see all the immorality and garbage of the times. By the end of the novel you will realize that this symbolizes that God is dead.

    SYMBOLISM IN THE GREAT GATSBY

    What is unknown is often talked about as being mysterious, perhaps even ominous. Naturally, many people become curious and want to find out what lurks about in the dark and be able to say that they know what others do not. In F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby, the main character, Jay Gatsby is quite enigmatic. Seclusion and isolation are well known to Gatsby, especially when it comes to his personal life and his history. Throughout the novel, except when with Nick or Daisy, Gatsby asserts himself as an observer, who would rather watch others than to join in with the crowd.

    The silhouette of a moving cat wavered across the moonlight, and turning my head to watch it, I saw that I was not alone--fifty feet away a figure had emerged from the shadow of my neighbor's mansion with his hands in his pockets . . . (p. 21)

    Being the absolute mystery that he is, Gatsby is this "silhouette of a moving cat," and lives his life this way. As this quote shows, Gatsby emerges from the shadow to reveal himself to Nick (who is one of a very few amount of people that he confides in with the truth of who he really is). Whether Gatsby is throwing extravagant parties in his own home or with a small group of people, who he is remains a secret. Gatsby is constantly encompassed by darkness and secrecy

    When Gatsby threw his large parties, he was rarely seen amongst his guests and was most often alone, observing them. "Gatsby, standing alone on the marble steps and looking from one group to another."(p. 50) The one time that Gatsby is noticed talking to his guests is when he introduced himself to Nick and started a conversation with him. Yet, most of the time that he throws these parties at his own home, he is alone and does not socialize with the people who attend.

    Trying to understand Gatsby is a very difficult thing to do, because there is so much to grasp. Entering into the upper class of wealthy people, Gatsby not only held onto a secret past, but also had the hidden agenda of trying to get Daisy back, whom he had fallen in love with while in the war. As people became more and more curious as to where he came from and who he really was, Gatsby stepped farther into the shadows and attempted to blend in with his surroundings. This went on until he met Nick Carraway, Daisy's cousin, who was able to bring him out of his small world. Then, upon reuniting with Daisy, Gatsby was pulled even farther into the reality of who he really was.

      Nagore Etxebarria, Universidad de Deusto, Mayo 2003.