• Began soon after the end of WWI
• Attitudes about life changed after “the war to end all wars”
• The brutality and carnage (gatling gun, gas warfare) inspired a “lost generation”
• Large demographic change and industrial revolution
• 18th Amendment to the
Constitution prohibiting the sale, transportation, and consumption of alcohol.
• Enacted in 1919 and quickly gave rise to organized crime in the U.S.
• Bootleggers became wealthy celebrities
• Al “Scarface”
• Arnold Rothstein, was the inspiration for Meyer
Wolfsheim in The
• Nick Carraway - Narrator of the story. He tells the story from a first person perspective but withholds judgment on the characters. Young bond salesman recently graduated from “New Haven” who lives next door to Jay Gatsby.
• Wealthy Long Island party giver. Owns a magnificent estate in the newly rich West
Egg (Great Neck).
• Rumors abound about his background, but most people only know that he throws amazing parties.
• Tom and Daisy have a privileged “old money” lifestyle but a troubled marriage.
• Daisy is a cousin of Nick Carraway and a distant associate of Jay Gatsby.
• Tom went to Yale with Nick but had a reputation as a cruel person.
• They live in East Egg (old money)
• Myrtle and George live in the “Valley of
• Myrtle is having an affair with Tom
Buchanan and sees Tom as a way out of the lower middle class
• author establishes decline of dream through setting for novel
• division of East and West Egg
• symbolism of Valley of Ashes
• set at time of prohibition where fortunes made quickly by illegal means
• Decline of the American Dream in the 20 th
• Importance of Dreams
• Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.
– In Chapters 3 and 4 the old money feeling of East Egg and the new jazzy money of West Egg, as epitomized by Gatsby's party, are brought to the forefront. Fitzgerald's descriptions of Gatsby's party guests gives us a better idea of how the old and the new rich are divided. Notice how the gentler and more romantic parts of the novel take place on Long Island (both the Eggs), while the most serious conflicts often take place in New York City.
– In Chapter 4 Gatsby is pulled over for speeding in the Valley of
Ashes. Gatsby simply waves a card at the policeman and the officer lets Gatsby go: apparently the chief of police owes him a favor. The advantages of being rich are reinforced by the location of this incident: it occurs in the valley of ashes, where the poor live their unprivileged lives. This contrast intensifies our image of
Gatsby's charmed existence and all that money can buy.
– We are in mid-summer, everything is sunny and happy. Or is it? After summer always comes winter.
• Fitzgerald uses narrator as objective viewpoint
• Nick is an outsider ( from west)
• Reliable , honest , slow to pass judgment
• Told in first person to allow his thoughts
• Nick’s contrasting views given at start of novel
• Fitzgerald’s build up of Gatsby before his entry
• Various rumors
• Extreme wealth but doesn’t appear at parties
• very low key entry
• Tom and Daisy have money and status
• George Wilson has neither
• Gatsby has money but little status
• Nick has status through birth but little money
• Lack of morality in rich accepted yet
• Introduced through symbolism of green light
• contrast between intensity of Gatsby’s dream and shallowness of Tom and Daisy
• contrast shown in depiction of characters
• idyllic quality of past (cloak of uniform)
• need to obtain money to win Daisy
• irony that she isn’t worth the effort
• climactic scene in hotel
• contrast between Gatsby’s tragic death and
Tom / Daisy’s selfish reaction
• Fitzgerald’s approval of Gatsby shown by:
• Nick’s assessment of Gatsby / Tom and
• Romantic tone of last few paragraphs linking Gatsby’s dreams with those of original settlers