The Great Gatsby study questions, part I
1. Does Nick follow the advice his father gives him? What is the result?
2. What is it about Nick’s personality that makes him want to move?
3. Chance and coincidence play a major role in the novel. How does Nick end
up living next door to Gatsby?
4. The landscapes of the novel can be read as symbols for larger themes in the
book. What do the giant, unblinking eyes of T.J. Eckleberg watching over
the Valley of Ashes symbolize? Think of the question in terms of the
spiritual condition of the country after World War I.
5. At the party, Catherine tells Nick that Daisy will not grant Tom a divorce
because she is Catholic. Where would she have obtained her information?
What information is brought to the surface about Tom, Myrtle, and
Catherine from this?
6. What rumors are spread at the party about Gatsby?
7. Who is conspicuously missing from Gatsby’s party? What does this allude to
about the character?
8. When Nick meets Owl Eyes at the party, he is told that all of the books there
are real. Compare this with the idea of conspicuous consumption.
9. In relation to the car crash, what might Fitzgerald be saying about the rich
and their lifestyle?
10. How is Nick reliable as a narrator, if at all? What aspects of his character
make him effective?
11. Why is the first-person narrative an effective and appropriate way of telling
this story?
12. In relation to the title, how is Gatsby “great”?
13. An epigraph is a quotation at the beginning of a work that reflects the work.
How does the epigraph to the novel reflect on Gatsby’s story?
14. What do Tom and Daisy have in common? Why do they stay together? Does
their relationship change at all in the course of the novel?
15. How does Fitzgerald use Gatsby’s parties to present a satirical portrait of the
Roaring Twenties?
16. Compare and contrast the characters of Daisy and Myrtle Wilson.
17. Discuss the relationship between Nick and Jordan Baker. How does it
reflect, if at all, on the story of Gatsby and Daisy?
18. Discuss Fitzgerald’s use of the automobile in this novel. What do you think
might have made the automobile an appealing symbol to Fitzgerald in the
early 1920’s?
19. Contrast the setting of the Valley of Ashes with that of East Egg and West
20. Tom and Daisy are said to have drifted around before finally settling in East
Egg, and Nick expects them to continue to drift. Other characters in the
novel, while not drifters, appear to be rootless. How much doe rootlessness
have to do with the characters problems?