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Study Guide
by Calvin Roso
For the novel by
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Grades 1012 Reproducible Pages #414

Study Guide
by Calvin Roso
1998 Progeny Press 1
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The Great Gatsby Study Guide
A Progeny Press Study Guide
by Calvin Roso
with Andrew Clausen, Michael Gilleland
Copyright 1998 Progeny Press
All rights reserved.
Reproduction or translation of any part of this work
beyond that permitted by Section 107 or 108 of the
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ISBN 978-1-58609-363-1 Book
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2 1998 Progeny Press

Table of Contents
Note to Instructor .....................................................................................................4
Synopsis ....................................................................................................................5
Background Information ..........................................................................................6
About the Author ......................................................................................................7
Ideas for Pre-reading Activities ..................................................................................8
Chapter 1 ...............................................................................................................10
Chapter 2 ...............................................................................................................19
Chapter 3 ...............................................................................................................27
Chapter 4 ...............................................................................................................33
Chapter 5 ...............................................................................................................39
Chapter 6 ...............................................................................................................45
Chapter 7 ...............................................................................................................51
Chapter 8 ...............................................................................................................57
Chapter 9 ...............................................................................................................61
Summary ................................................................................................................66
Essays .....................................................................................................................70
Additional Resources ..............................................................................................71
Answer Key .............................................................................................................72
1998 Progeny Press 3
The Great Gatsby Study Guide
*Answer Key located in separate folder.
Note to Instructor
How to Use Progeny Press Study Guides. Progeny Press study guides are designed
to help students better understand and enjoy literature by getting them to notice and
understand how authors craft their stories and to show them how to think through
the themes and ideas introduced in the stories. To properly work through a Progeny
Press study guide, students should have easy access to a good dictionary, a thesaurus, a
Bible (we use NIV translation, but that is up to your preference; just be aware of some
differences in language), and sometimes a topical Bible or concordance. Supervised
access to the Internet also can be helpful at times, as can a good set of encyclopedias.
Most middle grades and high school study guides take from eight to ten weeks
to complete, generally working on one section per week. Over the years, we have
found that it works best if the students completely read the novel the first week, while
also working on a prereading activity chosen by the parent or teacher. Starting the sec-
ond week, most parents and teachers have found it works best to work on one study
guide page per day until the chapter sections are completed. Students should be
allowed to complete questions by referring to the book; many questions require some
cross-reference between elements of the stories.
Most study guides contain an Overview section that can be used as a final test,
or it can be completed in the same way the chapter sections were completed. If you
wish to perform a final test but your particular study guide does not have an
Overview section, we suggest picking a couple of questions from each section of the
study guide and using them as your final test.
Most study guides also have a final section of essays and postreading activities.
These may be assigned at the parents or teachers discretion, but we suggest that stu-
dents engage in several writing or other extra activities during the study of the novel
to complement their reading and strengthen their writing skills.
As for high school credits, most Christian high schools with whom we have
spoken have assigned a value of one-fourth credit to each study guide, and this also
seems to be acceptable to colleges assessing homeschool transcripts.
Internet References
All websites listed in this study guide were checked for appropriateness at the time of
publication. However, due to the changing nature of the Internet, we cannot guarantee
that the URLs listed will remain appropriate or viable. Therefore, we urge parents and
teachers to take care in and exercise careful oversight of their childrens use of the Internet.
4 1998 Progeny Press
The Great Gatsby Study Guide
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, every-
thing was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. . . .
And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from mans envy of his neighbor. This
too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Ecclesiastes 2:11, 4:4
Having recently returned from military duty overseas during the Great War, Nick
Carraway is restless and tired of his provincial life in the Midwest. He moves East to
get into the bond market and soon finds himself living among the wealthy on Long
Nick reacquaints himself with his cousin Daisy Buchanan and her husband
Tom, and through them he meets the incurably dishonest Jordan Baker, for whom
he begins to develop a romantic interest. Nick soon learns of Daisys deep unhappi-
ness and Toms affair with Myrtle Wilson, a married woman. Before long, Nick is
drawn inextricably into their lives.
Nicks next-door neighbor is the extravagantly wealthy, but mysterious, Jay
Gatsby. Even at his own lavish parties, Gatsby is the subject of rumors and specula-
tion. Nick learns that Gatsbys single dream, for which he has amassed all his wealth
and possessions, is to win back the love of Daisy Buchanan, with whom he had a rela-
tionship some years earlier. Gatsby enlists Nicks help in reuniting with Daisy, but
Gatsbys single-mindedness becomes his undoing as he seeks to relive the past.
The Great Gatsby is considered a masterpiece of American literature, filled with
symbolism and beautiful, well-crafted passages. Through it we are given a glimpse
into the characters moral emptiness, selfishness, and narcissism.
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Background Information
World War I made many Americans question the validity of traditional ideals.
Literature and art denied the foundations of the past and strove to express the ideas of
a new age. These new ideas were expressed during the Jazz Age, through a new phi-
losophy called modernism.
The Jazz Age
During the Jazz Age, or the Roaring Twenties, the standard of living increased for
most Americans. America experienced a general abandoning of the small-town, rural
past in exchange for an urban, cosmopolitan lifestyle. The United States experienced
enormous economic growth as Americans sought to forget the troubles of the war.
The way many chose to do this was by simply enjoying life. Many enjoyed life
through frivolous spending, illegal liquor, and immorality. Although the 18th
Amendment to the Constitution prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcoholic
beverages, thousands turned to bootlegged liquor. Mob activity in the United States
increased to supply the demand for what was once legal. The literature, art, and music
of this time period reflected the nations changing values. Many authors attacked tra-
ditional values, while others, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway,
Sherwood Anderson, and Ezra Pound, moved to Paris for some time, becoming
labeled as the lost generation, or expatriates.
Modernism is an artistic trend that sought to find new ways to communicate in a
world where past traditions, values, and ideals no longer applied. Modernist writers
often sought to strip away descriptions of characters and setting while avoiding direct
statements of theme and resolutions. This fragmented style of writing theoretically
enabled the reader to choose meaning for himself, while understanding that life itself
was fragmented and without meaning.
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About the Author
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1896. He grew up
with middle-class parents who constantly overextended themselves financially. In high
school, Fitzgerald published fiction in the school magazine. While attending
Princeton University, he also published fiction, and in addition, wrote amateur musi-
cal comedies. After Princeton, Scott left to join the Army. During his time in the
Service, he wrote and published his first short story. It was also during this time that
he fell in love with Zelda Sayre, a young southern belle who refused to marry him
until he could prove that he could support her financially.
It was the success of his first novel, This Side of Paradise (1920), which por-
trayed undergraduate life at Princeton, that convinced Zelda that he could be success-
ful. The subject and success of this novel also established Fitzgerald as the golden
boy of the Jazz Age, whose writing epitomized the spirit of the time. The Fitzgeralds
became a part of the wealthy, extravagant society that characterized the Roaring 20s.
Spending time living in both New York and Europe, the glamorous couple mingled
with famous celebrities, attending countless parties and spending money recklessly.
The decline of Fitzgeralds personal and artistic life coincided with the end of
the 1920s. F. Scott Fitzgeralds reputation as a writer declined by the end of the 1920s
and he was often forced to write hack work to make the money necessary to support
the couples extravagant lifestyle. During this time, his addiction to alcohol also
increased. In addition, rumors surfaced of Zeldas having an affair in Europe. Later,
Zelda suffered several nervous breakdowns and was eventually institutionalized with
schizophrenia. She died in a fire in the hospital in 1938. After several attempts to
regain his voice in literature through short stories, novels, and film writing, Fitzgerald
died of a heart attack at age 44.
F. Scott Fitzgerald is best known as the leading writer of the Jazz Age, a man
who was remarkably able to both live the life of the Roaring Twenties, yet write as a
detached observer of it. His works include: This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby,
The Beautiful and the Damned, Tender is the Night, and The Last Tycoon (unfinished).
In addition, he published four volumes of short stories and a selection of autobio-
graphical pieces.
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Ideas for Pre-reading Activities
1. Art work: Research clothing styles in 1920s America. Draw pictures or make a
collage of clippings illustrating what men and women from the Jazz Age
dressed and looked like.
2. The Lost Generation: Research American authors and artists from the post-
WWI era who were considered part of the lost generation. Write a one-page
paper discussing who these artists were, why they left America, and what they
believed regarding life, literature, and art.
3. Prohibition: Write a one-page informative essay regarding prohibition in the
4. The American Dream: Write a one-page paper defining the American Dream.
Discuss how the idea of the American Dream has changed through time.
Conclude by discussing whether or not you think the American Dream is still
possible to achieve, or whether it exists at all.
5. Materialism: Write a three- to five-paragraph personal essay about how you see
materialism influencing society. How does the desire for money and possessions
affect the way people think and plan? Do you find materialism influencing
your own plans for college or your career?
6. As you read this novel, pay particular attention to the relationships between the
people. Note how they treat each other, how they speak to each other, or how
they seem to think about each other. On what are these relationships based?
How do these relationships turn out?
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7. The Great Gatsby is known for its lavish descriptive passages. With just a few
choice words Fitzgerald turns a small decrepit village into a metaphor for decay
and death, or turns a small afternoon party into a near nightmare of smoke,
babble, and motion. Look up the terms personification, metaphor, and simile,
and see how Fitzgerald uses these literary devices throughout the novel.
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Chapter 1
Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it was what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust
floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive
sorrows and short-winded elations of men.
Explain the meaning of the underlined word in each sentence below based on how
that word is used in the sentence. You may need to use a dictionary.
1. Frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I real-
ized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on
the horizon. . .
2. Now he was a sturdy straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and
a supercilious manner.
3. There was a touch of paternal contempt in it, even toward the people he
likedand there were men at New Haven who had hated his guts.
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4. The other girl, Daisy, made an attempt to riseshe leaned slightly forward
with a conscientious expressionthen she laughed. . .
5. Slenderly, languidly, their hands set lightly on their hips, the two young
women preceded us out onto a rosy-colored porch. . .
6. Sometimes she and Miss Baker talked at once, unobtrusively and with a banter-
ing inconsequence that was never quite chatter . . . . .
7. This idea is that were Nordics. I am, you are, and you are, and After an
infinitesimal hesitation he included Daisy with a slight nod, and she winked at
me again.
8. Something was making him nibble at the edge of stale ideas as if his sturdy
physical egotism no longer nourished his peremptory heart.
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Character Study:
We learn about characters through what they say, what they do, what others say about
them, and how others react to them. We also learn about characters through the tone
of the author and the narrator. In order to grasp the text, your goal should be to
understand the main characters: their strengths, weaknesses, growth, etc. For each of
the passages below, write down in one or two sentences what the passage reveals or
suggests about the character listed.
1. Nick Carraway:
. . . Im inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened
up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of
not a few veteran bores. . . . Reserving judgments is a matter of
infinite hope. I am still a little afraid of missing something if I for-
get that . . . a sense of fundamental decencies is parceled out
unequally at birth.
2. Nick Carraway:
. . . after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admis-
sion that it has a limit. Conduct may be founded on the hard rock
or the wet marshes but after a certain point I dont care what its
founded on. When I came back from the East last autumn I felt
that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral
attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privi-
leged glimpses into the human heart.
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3. Jay Gatsby:
NoGatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on
Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that tem-
porarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-
winded elations of men.
4. Jay Gatsby:
. . . he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone
he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way,
and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling.
Involuntarily I glanced seawardand distinguished nothing
except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have
been at the end of the dock.
5. Tom Buchanan:
. . . [Tom was] one of those men who reach such an acute limited
excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of anti-
climax. . . . Now he was a sturdy straw-haired man of thirty with a
rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining arro-
gant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him
the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. . . . [His]
was a body capable of enormous leveragea cruel body.
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6. Daisy Buchanan:
. . . her low, thrilling voice. It was the kind of voice that the ear
follows up and down as if each speech is an arrangement of notes
that will never be played again. Her face was sad and lovely with
bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth
but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared
for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whis-
pered, Listen, a promise that she had done gay, exciting things
just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering
in the next hour.
7. Jordan Baker:
The younger of the two [Jordan] was a stranger to me. She was
extended full length at her end of the divan, completely motion-
less and with her chin raised a little as if she were balancing some-
thing on it which was quite likely to fall. If she saw me out of the
corner of her eyes she gave no hint of itindeed, I was almost
surprised into murmuring an apology for having disturbed her by
coming in.
1. In the opening lines of the novel, Nick, the narrator, recalls advice that his
father gave him. What was this advice?
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2. Describe West Egg, where Nick lives. How does West Egg differ from East
Egg? Which of the books characters live in each?
3. How is Nick related to Tom and Daisy Buchanan?
4. What does Nick learn about Tom, Daisy, and Jordan during the dinner party?
5. When Nick first sees Gatsby, where is Gatsby, and what is he doing?
6. What does Nick mean when he says that tolerance has a limit?
7. What does Nick say preyed on Gatsby? What do you think Nick means by
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8. What words or phrases suggest that Nick is initially optimistic about going
9. Personification is a common technique Fitzgerald uses in The Great Gatsby.
Personification is the giving of human attributes to nonhuman things. For
example, the sentence The sun smiled down on the children at play paints an
image of the sun smilinga human characteristic.
Nicks description of the Buchanans lawn when he first arrives at their
home is a perfect example of personification. Reread this description in the
novel. What words or phrases give the lawn a sense of life and motion?
10. Note the imagery Fitzgerald uses to describe Daisy and Jordan when Nick first
sees them:
The only stationary object in the room was an enormous couch
on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an
anchored balloon. They were both in white, and their dresses were
rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after
a short flight around the house. . . . Then there was a boom as
Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died
out about the room, and the curtains and the rugs and the two
young women ballooned slowly to the floor.
What do you think Fitzgerald is suggesting about these two women through
this imagery? What other evidence is given in the chapter to support your idea?
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11. What ideas about race does Tom express? What does this reveal about Toms
12. How well do you think Nick fits in with those around him? Explain your
13. How does Jordan respond to the idea of Toms affair? What does this say about
her attitude toward marriage?
14. With what you have seen in the first chapter, how significant of a role do you
think Tom and Daisys daughter plays in their lives? Why do you think
Fitzgerald chose to give this couple a child?
Dig Deeper:
15. When Daisy and Nick are alone in the porch, Daisy explains her view of life:
You see I think everythings terrible anyhow. . . . Everybody
thinks sothe most advanced people. And I know. Ive been
everywhere and seen everything and done everything.
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Read Ecclesiastes 2:12, 1011. How does Daisys statement compare with the
statement in these verses? Why do you think the pursuit of pleasure might have
this effect on people?
Optional Exercises:
An allusion is a reference to an historical or literary person, place, or event with
which the reader is assumed to be familiar. In Nicks discussion of his journey
East, he makes an allusion to the shining secrets that only Midas and Morgan
and Maecenas knew. Research who these characters were and what their
secrets were. What do these characters have to do with Nicks career possibili-
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Chapter 2
But above the grey land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive,
after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg. The eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg are blue
and gigantictheir retinas are one yard high. . . . his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless
days under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground.
Choose the correct meaning of the underlined word in each sentence below based on
how that word is used in the sentence. You may need to use a dictionary.
1. . . . ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and finally,
with a transcendent effort, of men who moved dimly and already crumbling
through the powdery air.
In the context of this passage, transcendent means:
a. extreme
b. performed
c. beyond comprehension
d. confusing
2. The only building in sight was a small block of yellow brick sitting on the edge
of the waste land, a sort of compact Main Street ministering to it and contigu-
ous to absolutely nothing.
In the context of this passage, contiguous means:
a. indicative
b. adjacent
c. opposing
d. compared
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3. It had occurred to me that this shadow of a garage must be a blind and that
sumptuous and romantic apartments were concealed overhead . . .
In the context of this passage, blind means:
a. window shade
b. obstruction
c. decoy
d. darkness
4. . . . a tin of large hard dog biscuitsone of which decomposed apathetically in
the saucer of milk all afternoon.
In the context of this passage, apathetically means:
a. impassively
b. endlessly
c. disgustingly
d. loosely
5. She came in with such a proprietary haste and looked around so possessively at
the furniture that I wondered if she lived here.
In the context of this passage, proprietary means:
a. uninterested
b. aggressive
c. planned
d. owned or managed
6. The intense vitality that had been so remarkable in the garage was converted
into impressive hauteur.
In the context of this passage, hauteur means:
a. performance
b. arrogance
c. frivolity
d. intensity
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7. My dear, she told her sister in a high mincing shout, most of these fellas will
cheat you every time.
In the context of this passage, mincing means:
a. dainty or delicate
b. irritating/annoying
c. concise or pithy
d. youthful/childish
8. Crazy about him! cried Myrtle incredulously. Who said I was crazy about
him? I never was any more crazy about him than I was about that man there.
In the context of this passage, incredulously means:
a. nervously
b. amazingly
c. ironically
d. skeptically
1. List some of the descriptive words and phrases used to describe the setting in
the first two paragraphs of Chapter 2.
2. Who, or what, is Doctor T.J. Eckleburg? Where is he seen? What does
Doctor T.J. Eckleburg stare over?
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3. What is the proximity between the Wilsons home and the valley of ashes, or
the waste land? What do you think this relationship says about their lives?
4. What does Myrtles sister tell Nick about Gatsby? What impression of Gatsby
does this give you?
5. Why does Tom break Myrtles nose?
6. A symbol is something physical that represents something abstract. We identify
symbols in literature through the authors emphasis and the authors use of repe-
tition. We understand what symbols mean through the authors tone and
In the beginning of Chapter 2, considerable time is spent describing the
valley of ashes. What ideas or concepts does one generally associate with
ashes? What do you think the valley of ashes between West Egg and New
York symbolizes?
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7. Many analyses of The Great Gatsby suggest that the eyes of Doctor T.J.
Eckleburg are a symbol for God. What evidence in Chapter 2 is there to sup-
port this idea? If this is God in the novel, what do you think Fitzgerald is say-
ing by depicting God as a man-made advertisement overlooking a valley of
8. Twice Nick mentions the photograph on the wall of Myrtles apartment. How
does he characterize or personify the photograph? How is the photograph simi-
lar to the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg?
9. The exterior of Myrtles apartment is described as one slice in a long white
cake of apartment houses. What does this positive imagery imply? How does
the outward appearance differ from the relationships within? Compare this idea
with Christs imagery of the Pharisees as whitewashed tombs (Matthew
23:27, 28). What was Jesus implying through this comparison? How is Myrtles
apartment, and Tom and Myrtles affair, like a whitewashed tomb?
10. What books and magazines does Nick find at Myrtles apartment? What might
the titles of these books and magazines suggest?
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11. Dramatic irony is when the reader sees a characters mistakes which the charac-
ter is unable to see himself. What is ironic about Myrtles negative attitudes
toward the lower classes?
12. An authors tone is the way he presents his subject matter to readers. Through
his use of language, the author can influence the way readers view certain char-
acters or events in a novel. Examine the tone with which Fitzgerald writes
about George Wilson. How does he present George Wilson to the reader? Do
you think Fitzgerald wishes for readers to sympathize with George Wilson?
Explain your answer with examples from the book.
Dig Deeper:
13. Read Matthew 6:2534. What do these verses tell us about where our priorities
should be in our careers, possessions, and relationships?
14. Three times during Chapter 2 Nick finds himself unable to leave the company
of Tom and Myrtle. First, when the train stops on the way to New York, then
in the taxicab on the way to the apartment, and finally during the party. How
is Nick unable to leave in each case?
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15. How do these three attempts to leave show a progression toward Nick becom-
ing a willing participant in the clandestine meeting?
16. Read 1 Corinthians 5. Do you think that by remaining with Tom and Myrtle
throughout the chapter Nick is showing his approval of the affair? Explain your
17. Using evidence from the novel, analyze the relationship between Tom and
Myrtle. Why are Tom and Myrtle having an affair? What do you think they are
hoping to gain from it? Do you think it has made them happier?
18. Near the end of Chapter 2, Nick comments to the reader, I was within [the
apartment] and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inex-
haustible variety of life. How does this statement compare with Pauls state-
ment in Romans 7:1425. Have you ever found yourself being both
enchanted and repelled by what you know is wrong? How did you deal with
it? What is promised in Romans 8:111, 2639 for those who struggle?
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Optional Exercises:
Read and discuss excerpts from T. S. Eliots The Waste Land (1922).
Draw a picture portraying the imagery of the ash heaps and Doctor T.J.
Search out scripture passages dealing with marriage and discuss the Biblical
view of marriage. Some good starting points are Proverbs 5, Malachi 2:1316,
Ephesians 5:2233, and Hebrews 13:4.
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Chapter 3
It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may
come across four or five times in your life. It facedor seemed to facethe whole external
world for an instance, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your
favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you
would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you
that, at your best, you hoped to convey.
Explain the meaning of the underlined word in each sentence below based on how
that word is used in the sentence. You may need to use a dictionary.
1. On buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors doeuvre, spiced baked hams
crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys
bewitched to a dark gold.
2. The bar is in full swing and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden
outside until the air is alive with chatter and laughter and casual innuendo and
introductions forgotten on the spot and enthusiastic meetings between women
who never knew each others names.
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3. Laughter is easier, minute by minute, spilled with prodigality, tipped out at a
cheerful word.
4. A momentary hush; the orchestra leader varies his rhythm obligingly for her
and there is a burst of chatter as the erroneous news goes around that she is
Gilda Grays understudy from the Follies.
5. . . . wandered around rather ill at ease among swirls and eddies of people I
didnt know . . .
6. Instead of rambling this party had preserved a dignified homogeneity, and
assumed to itself the function of representing the staid nobility of the country-
sideEast Egg condescending to West Egg, and carefully on guard against its
spectroscopic gayety.
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7. I had expected that Mr. Gatsby would be a florid and corpulent person in his
middle years.
8. The hall was at present occupied by two deplorably sober men and their highly
indignant wives.
1. What rumors do people at the party tell about Gatsby?
2. Why do you think that the man with the owl-eyed spectacles is so surprised
to find real books in Gatsbys library?
3. What was the story involving a golf tournament that Nick had heard about
Jordan? What does Nick say about Jordans honesty?
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4. In the fourth paragraph of Chapter 3, Fitzgerald abruptly changes his gram-
matical style, writes differently for three paragraphs, and then abruptly changes
back to his previous style. Identify the change that takes place in these para-
graphs. Give several examples that demonstrate this grammatical change.
5. Generally, a grammatical change like this is considered a mistake and poor
writing, but Fitzgerald obviously did it on purpose and for a very specific effect.
Why did Fitzgerald change his grammatical style?
6. The party sequence in Chapter 3 is really made up of a series of vignettes, short
scenes, connected only by Nicks wandering around the party. What mood does
this give the chapter? Compare this to the scenes in the last page or two of the
previous chapter. What connection might there be?
7. How have all the rumors and stories about him developed the character of
Gatsby? Why do you think an author would keep his title character a mystery?
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8. A paradox is a statement that seems contradictory, but actually presents a truth.
What might be the truth in Jordans paradox: I like large parties. Theyre so
intimate? How can large parties be intimate?
9. In the following passage, what might Fitzgerald be saying about the significance
of the gathering and the lives of those there?
We were sitting at a table with a man of about my age and a
rowdy little girl who gave way upon the slightest provocation to
uncontrollable laughter. I was enjoying myself now. I had taken
two finger bowls of champagne and the scene had changed before
my eyes into something significant, elemental and profound.
10. Nick says that the three parties central to the first three chapters of the novel
were merely casual events in a crowded summer, and that they absorbed me
infinitely less than my personal affairs. Nevertheless, what is suggested about
the novels plot by focusing the action of the story on these parties? Why do
you think Fitzgerald chose to structure the first three chapters in this way?
11. If no one seems to appreciate Gatsby for his parties and Gatsby doesnt seem to
know most of the people attending or participate much, why do you think he
holds such huge, lavish gatherings?
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Dig Deeper:
12. Read Proverbs 10:18, 19 and Proverbs 23:2935. What do these verses say
about drunkenness and foolishness? How do the verses apply to the characters
in the novel?
13. At the end of Chapter 3, Nick says, Every one suspects himself of at least one
of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that
I have ever known. What are cardinal virtues? What is ironic about Nicks
use of the word suspects when talking about virtue?
14. How does Nicks statement about his rare honesty affect your opinion of him?
Why do you feel this way?
For Discussion:
15. How does society generally view the party scene (such as that depicted in The
Great Gatsby)? Does society depict it as an attractive lifestyle? If so, why do you
think this lifestyle would be attractive to people? With what tone does the
author write of the parties in The Great Gatsby? How does he communicate this
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Chapter 4
On Sunday morning while church bells rang in the villages along shore the world and its
mistress returned to Gatsbys house and twinkled hilariously on his lawn.
Choose the word that most closely defines the underlined word in each sentence
1. ___ This quality was continually breaking through his punctilious manner in
the shape of restlessness.
a. traditional b. conventional c. uneasy
2. ___ . . . and when the infantry came up at last they found the insignia of three
German divisions among the piles of dead.
a. sign b. uniform c. emblem
3. ___ Over the great bridge, . . . with the city rising up across the river in white
heaps and sugar lumps all built with a wish out of non-olfactory money.
a. dirty b. unscented c. new
4. ___ Gatsby took an arm of each of us . . . whereupon Mr. Wolfsheim swallowed
a new sentence he was starting and lapsed into a somnambulatory abstraction.
a. hypnotized b. drowsed c. sleep-walking
5. ___ This is one of his sentimental days. Hes quite a character around New
Yorka denizen of Broadway.
a. alien b. inhabitant c. actor
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1. List words and phrases used to describe Gatsbys car. What do you think
Gatsbys car expresses about him?
2. Paraphrase Gatsbys story about his life.
3. What parts of Gatsbys story sound false to Nick? What does Gatsby show Nick
that causes Nick to believe his storyat least in part?
4. List two things associating Meyer Wolfshiem with crime.
5. Summarize Jordans story about Gatsby and Daisy.
6. Why, according to Jordan, did Gatsby buy his particular house?
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7. After hearing Jordans story, Nick says that Gatsby came alive to me, delivered
suddenly from the womb of his purposeless splendor. What does Nick recog-
nize as the purpose for Gatsbys fine mansion and all his parties?
8. What is suggested or implied when the author writes, On Sunday morning
while church bells rang in the villages along shore the world and its mistress
returned to Gatsbys house?
9. About the names on the timetable, Nick says,
. . . I can still read the gray names, and they will give you a better
impression than my generalities of those who accepted Gatsbys
hospitality and paid him the subtle tribute of knowing nothing
whatever about him.
What is Nick saying, sarcastically, about those who attended Gatsbys parties?
10. Look at the list of names on the timetable from the first few pages of Chapter
4. What impression of these people are you given? What about the list influ-
ences your impressions?
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11. Juxtaposition is the placing of two ideas side by side so that their closeness sug-
gests a new meaning. For example, following the end of Chapter 1 (Gatsby
reaching hopefully toward the green light) with descriptions of the valley of
ashes at the beginning of Chapter 2 suggests that Gatsbys dream is somehow
connected to or will result in ruin.
What might Fitzgerald be suggesting by the juxtaposition of Gatsbys
splendid car being passed by a dead man . . . in a hearse heaped with
12. The dead man in the hearse is followed by more cheerful carriages for friends,
and Nick says he is glad that the sight of Gatsbys splendid car was included in
their somber holiday. Do you see any symbolism or foreshadowing in this
13. When Jordan tells Nick the story of Daisy and Gatsby, Nick relates that Jordan
was sitting up very straight on a straight chair. Considering that Jordan is ear-
lier characterized by phrases like lying on the sofa, languid, sauntering
what might this suggest about the validity of her story?
14. Compare Gatsbys story about himself with Jordans story. How well do they fit
together? Describe elements of the stories that do or do not fit well.
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15. Given the very romantic stories Gatsby and Jordan tell, and the implied incon-
gruities between them, what does the juxtaposition of the scene with Meyer
Wolfshiem imply about Gatsby? How does this scene make you feel about
16. How does Nicks view of Gatsby change over the course of Chapter 4? How has
your view of Gatsby been affected or changed by this chapter?
Dig Deeper:
17. Read Ecclesiastes 4:912; Acts 2:4447; Romans 15:1, 2; and 1 Corinthians
13:47. According to these verses, what is the purpose of fellowship and friend-
ship? What characteristics of a true friend are listed in these verses? Who in the
novel, if anyone, exhibits these characteristics?
18. Read Proverbs 6:1619; Proverbs 14: 79; 1 Corinthians 15:33, 34; and 2
Peter 2:1719. How do many of the people weve met so far in the novel com-
pare to these verses?
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19. Think about your friends and acquaintances. Are they more like those
described in the first group of verses above, or the second? Do they try to build
each other up, or do they more often lie and cause dissension? Why do you
think someone would choose to associate with a group like Gatsbys instead of
one that fits the first set of verses?
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Chapter 5
There must have been some moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his
dreamsnot through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It
had gone beyond her, beyond everything. . . . No amount of fire or freshness can challenge
what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.
Explain the meaning of the underlined word in each sentence below based on how
that word is used in the sentence. You may need to use a dictionary.
1. Two oclock and the whole corner of the peninsula was blazing with light
which fell unreal on the shrubbery and made thin elongating glints upon the
roadside wires.
2. At first I thought it was another party, a wild rout that had resolved itself into
hide-and-go-seek or sardines-in-the-box with all the house thrown open to
the game.
3. . . . the sound of a motor turning into my lane. We both jumped up and, a lit-
tle harrowed myself, I went into the yard.
4. His head leaned back so far that it rested against the face of a defunct mantel-
piece clock . . .
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5. They were sitting at either end of the couch looking at each other as if some
question had been asked or was in the air, and every vestige of embarrassment
was gone.
1. How and why does Gatsby offer to help Nick? Why does Nick say that
under different circumstances that conversation might have been one of the
crises of my life?
2. What weaknesses regarding Gatsbys story about his life are suggested in this
3. How does Daisy act when she meets Gatsby at Nicks house? How does Gatsby
4. How does Daisy act at Gatsbys mansion?
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5. How, according to Nick, does Gatsby revalue everything in his house.
6. What three states does Gatsby goes through while he is with Daisy?
7. What is the history behind Gatsbys mansion and its former owners? What
might be symbolic about Gatsby purchasing a house with a black wreath on its
8. Read the passages below.
Sometimes, too, he stared around his possessions in a dazed way as
though in her actual and astonishing presence none of it was any
longer real.
Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of
that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great dis-
tance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near
to her, almost touching her. It had seemed close as a star to the
moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of
enchanted objects had diminished by one.
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How have Gatsbys possessionsall that he has built in order to attain his
dreambeen changed by the reentry of Daisy into his life?
9. When Gatsby takes Daisy on a tour of the many rooms of his mansion, why do
you think Fitzgerald ended the tour in Gatsbys personal living quarters?
10. Read the following passage:
He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them one by one
before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel . . . .
the soft rich heap mounted highershirts with stripes and scrolls
and plaids in coral and apple green and lavender and faint orange
with monograms of Indian blue.
As the final event of the tour, what do you think this display of his shirts says
about Gatsby?
11. Nick says there must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy
tumbled short of [Gatsbys] dreamsnot through her own fault but because of
the colossal vitality of his illusion. What is Nick saying about Gatsbys dreams
in this passage?
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12. Do you think Nicks admiration for Gatsby has grown stronger or weaker in
this chapter? Explain your answer.
Dig Deeper:
13. In this chapter, Fitzgerald implies that ones dreams are often bigger than can be
reasonably, or even possibly fulfilled. Do you agree or disagree? Explain your
14. Read Psalm 37: 411; Matthew 6:2434; and Ephesians 3:1721. What do
these verses have to say about the pursuing of ones dreams?
15. For what purpose did Gatsby ask Nick to invite Daisy to Nicks house? Why
did Nick invite Daisy? How does this act square with Nicks earlier assertion
that he is one of the few honest people that I have ever known?
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Optional Exercises:
Define success. Write a brief essay explaining how success or the desire for
success influences and applies to your daily life. Discuss how and when you will
know if you have lived a successful life.
In Chapter 5, Nick says he stared at Gatsbys house like Kant at his church
steeple. To help understand this allusion, research information regarding
Immanuel Kant. Write a one-page essay summarizing Kants philosophies and
discussing how they might differ from the modernism depicted in The Great
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Chapter 6
The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic concep-
tion of himself. He was a son of Goda phrase which, if it means anything, means just
thatand he must be about His Fathers Business, the service of a vast, vulgar and
meretricious beauty.
Explain the meaning of the underlined word in each sentence below based on how
that word is used in the sentence. You may need to use a dictionary.
1. He had changed [his name] at the age of seventeen . . . when he saw Dan
Codys yacht drop anchor over the most insidious flat on Lake Superior.
2. The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his
Platonic conception of himself.
3. He knew women early, and since they spoiled him he became contemptuous of
them . . .
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4. A universe of ineffable gaudiness spun itself out in his brain while the clock
ticked on the wash-stand and the moon soaked with wet light his tangled
clothes upon the floor.
5. Each night he added to the pattern of his fancies until drowsiness closed down
upon some vivid scene with an oblivious embrace.
6. For a while these reveries provided an outlet for his imagination . . .
7. The none too savory ramifications by which Ella Kaye, the newspaper woman,
played Madame de Maintenon to his weakness . . .
8. . . . for Dan Cody sober knew what lavish doings Dan Cody drunk might soon
be about and he provided for such contingencies by reposing more and more
trust in Gatsby.
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9. I remember the portrait of him up in Gatsbys bedroom, a grey, florid man with
a hard empty facethe pioneer debauchee, who during one phase of American
life brought back to the eastern seaboard the savage violence of the frontier
brothel and saloon.
10. [Gatsby] was left with his singularly appropriate education; the vague contour
of Jay Gatsby had filled out to the substantiality of man.
1. Summarize the story of James Gatz.
2. Who was Dan Cody?
3. What does Gatsby want Daisy to do? What would this accomplish? How realis-
tic, or fair, do you think it is for Gatsby to require this?
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4. How does Gatsby respond when Nick tells him You cant repeat the past?
5. Read the passage and answer the questions.
His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm peoplehis
imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all.
The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang
from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of Goda
phrase which, if it means anything, means just thatand he must
be about His Fathers Business, the service of a vast, vulgar and
meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that
a seventeen year old boy would be likely to invent, and to this
conception he was faithful to the end.
What does Nick mean by Gatsbys Platonic conception of himself, and by
calling Gatsby a son of God? What does the last sentence imply about
Gatsbys maturity as an adult?
6. Does learning the truth about Gatsbys childhood change your impression of
him? Explain your answer.
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7. What is ironic about Gatsby inheriting his education from Cody?
8. What is significant about the placement of Gatsbys true story in Chapter 6,
directly following his attaining Daisy in Chapter 5? Why do you think
Fitzgerald waited to tell readers this story until after Gatsby reunited with
9. What is ironic about Toms statement that women run around too much these
days. What does this statement reveal about Toms character?
10. Nick tells us that, five years earlier, Gatsby knew if he kissed Daisy, and forever
wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never
romp again like the mind of God. Why do you think Fitzgerald used this par-
ticular imagery? What does the idea of never romping again like the mind of
God remind you of ?
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Dig Deeper:
11. A number of the characters in The Great Gatsby seem to believe they are better
than other people or for some reason deserve to be privileged. In this chapter
we find that Gatsby has imagined himself to be better than his parents, and, in
fact, almost perfect.
Read Deuteronomy 8:1719; Romans 12:3; 1 Corinthians 4:6, 7; and
Philippians 2:3, 4. Where do these verses say our worth and wealth come from?
What do they say about how we should view ourselves?
12. What does it mean to be naive? Is Gatsby naive? As Christians, what things, if
anything, do you think we should be naive about? How do Romans 16:1719
and 1 Corinthians 14:20 relate to this question?
13. How is Gatsby trying to repeat the past? Do you think its possible to repeat
the past? Why or why not?
14. Read Isaiah 43:18, 19 and Philippians 3:714. What do these verses suggest
about living in the past?
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Chapter 7
But with every word she was drawing further and further into herself, so he gave that up and
only the dead dream fought on as the afternoon slipped away, trying to touch what was no
longer tangible, struggling unhappily, undespairingly, toward that lost voice across the room.
Explain the meaning of the underlined word in each sentence below based on how
that word is used in the sentence. You may need to use a dictionary.
1. I wanted somebody who wouldnt gossip. Daisy comes over quite oftenin
the afternoons.
So the whole caravansary had fallen in like a card house at the disap-
proval in her eyes.
2. He was calling up at Daisys requestwould I come to lunch at her house to-
morrow? . . . . And yet I couldnt believe that they would choose this occasion
for a sceneespecially for the rather harrowing scene that Gatsby had outlined
in the garden.
3. Jordan and Tom and I got into the front seat of Gatsbys car, Tom pushed the
unfamiliar gears tentatively and we shot off into the oppressive heat leaving
them out of sight behind.
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4. He paused. The immediate contingency overtook him, pulled him back from
the edge of the theoretical abyss.
5. Angry as I was, as we all were, I was tempted to laugh whenever he opened his
mouth. The transition from libertine to prig was so complete.
6. She does [love me], though. The trouble is that sometimes she gets foolish
ideas in her head and doesnt know what shes doing. He nodded sagely.
7. I was thirty. Before me stretched the portentous menacing road of a new
8. As we passed over the dark bridge her wan face fell lazily against my coats
shoulder and the formidable stroke of thirty died away with the reassuring pres-
sure of her hand.
9. The circle closed up again with a running murmur of expostulation; it was a
minute before I could see anything at all.
10. Only the Negro and I were near enough to hear what [Tom] said but the
policeman caught something in the tone and looked over with truculent eyes.
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1. Who is Pammy? How does Gatsby react when he sees her? How does her exis-
tence complicate Gatsbys dream?
2. How does Tom suddenly come to realize that Daisy loves Gatsby? How does he
3. What important discovery does Wilson make in this chapter? How does he react?
4. What things has Tom discovered about Gatsbys business dealings?
5. Why was Myrtle running towards Gatsbys car? Who was driving the car that
hit Myrtle Wilson? Who does Tom think was driving?
6. How does the accident seem to affect Jordan?
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7. What has changed about Gatsbys house? What might this change symbolize or
8. What does the author mean when he writes that Tom looked at Daisy as if he
had just recognized her as someone he knew a long time ago.
9. Why do you think Fitzgerald refers to Daisy as the golden girl? What does
Gatsby say Daisys voice is full of ? What does this comparison suggest about
what really attracts men to her?
10. How has Gatsbys dream died in this chapter? How has everyone else suffered
loss in this chapter?
11. After the confrontational scene in the hotel room, why do you think Fitzgerald
has Nick report that he has turned thirty that day? What is ironic about Nick
turning thirty in this particular chapter?
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12. In this chapter, Gatsbys car is described as the death car. If his car symbolizes
materialism, how does this add meaning to that symbolism? Identify other
deaths found in Chapter 7.
13. Why is Nick disgusted with Jordan in the end of the chapter? What has she
done or said that irritates him?
14. Chapter 7 parallels Chapter 1 in many ways. One example is the initial setting
at the Buchanans; a second example is the heat. Identify at least three other
similarities. What might be Fitzgeralds purpose for this parallelism?
15. How are Tom Buchanan and George Wilson alike? What might Fitzgerald be
suggesting through these similarities?
16. How how does Fitzgerald draw comparisons between Tom and Gatsby? What
might he be suggesting through these similarities?
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17. Compare and contrast the following two images. Identify where each occurs in
the story and discuss the meaning behind the similarities and differences.
He put his hands in his coat pockets and turned back eagerly to
his scrutiny of the house, as though my presence marred the
sacredness of the vigil. So I walked away and left him standing
there in the moonlightwatching over nothing.
But I didnt call to him, for he gave a sudden intimation that he
was content to be alonehe stretched out his arms toward the
dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could
have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward
and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and
faraway, that might have been the end of a dock.
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Chapter 8
No telephone message arrived . . . . I have an idea that Gatsby himself didnt believe it
would come and perhaps he no longer cared. If that was true he must have felt that he had
lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream.
1. Summarize Gatsbys story about his early romance with Daisy. What other
story did Gatsby tell Nick during this night?
2. By the end of the chapter, what has happened to both Gatsby and Wilson?
3. Gothic imagery creates a picture of darkness, gloomy castles, mazes, mystery,
nightmares and death. Identify the Gothic imagery found in the first few para-
graphs of Chapter 8. Why do you think Fitzgerald uses Gothic imagery to
describe Gatsbys mansion?
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4. The author writes that Gatsby had committed himself to the following of a
grail. What is the author suggesting about Gatsbys quest through the use of
this image?
5. The last thing Nick said to Gatsby was, Theyre a rotten crowd. Youre worth
the whole damn bunch put together. Why do you think he said this when he
admits that he disapproved of Gatsby from beginning to end?
6. Read the following passage:
Wilsons glazed eyes turned out to the ashheaps, where small grey
clouds took on fantastic shape and scurried here and there in the
faint dawn wind.
I spoke to her, he muttered, after a long silence. I told
her she might fool me but she couldnt fool God. I took her to the
window With an effort he got up and walked to the rear win-
dow and leaned with his face pressed against it, and I said
God knows what youve been doing, everything youve been
doing. You may fool me but you cant fool God!
Standing behind him Michaelis saw with a shock that he
was looking at the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg, which had just
emerged, pale and enormous from the dissolving night.
God sees everything, repeated Wilson.
Thats an advertisement, Michaelis assured him.
What do you think Fitzgerald is saying about God in this passage?
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7. At the end of the chapter, Nick says Gatsby must have felt that he had lost the
old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream.
What was this price? What do you think Fitzgerald is saying about holding on
to a single dream?
8. Do you think Gatsby believed in his dream to the end? Give examples from the
chapter to support your answer.
9. The last line of Chapter 8 says the holocaust was complete. Define the word
holocaust. Why do you think the author uses the term holocaust at this point?
(Remember that this novel was written prior to World War II.) How does the
use of the term holocaust relate to the earlier idea that Gatsby was a son of
Dig Deeper:
10. Read Romans 5:15, Hebrews 11:740, and 1 Peter 1:39. What do these pas-
sages suggest as an appropriate goal in life? According to these verses, what is
the likely price of this pursuit? Do you think this price is too high? Explain
your answer.
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11. The author writes that Wilson had no friend: there was not even enough of
him for his wife. Nevertheless, how does Michaelis demonstrate friendship
toward George Wilson? How does this compare with the story of the Good
Samaritan (Luke 10:2937)?
12. Read 1 Corinthians 3, 4. List some ways you can comfort someone who is
going through a difficult time of trial or sorrow.
13. In Mark 8:36, Jesus says What good is it for a man to gain the whole world,
yet forfeit his soul? How does Gatsbys life reflect the truth in this statement?
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Chapter 9
. . . as I sat there brooding on the old unknown world, I thought of Gatsbys wonder when
he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisys dock. He had come a long way to
this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp
it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity
beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
1. What is concluded about Wilsons motive for killing Gatsby?
2. What happened in the missing hours of George Wilsons journey to Gatsbys
3. Why wasnt Nick able to contact the Buchanans about Gatsbys death?
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4. According to Nick, how were he, Tom, Daisy, Jordan, and Gatsby all alike?
5. While searching for people to come to the funeral, Nick addresses Gatsby: Ill
get somebody for you, Gatsby. Dont worry. Just trust me and Ill get somebody
for you
Later, Nick imagines Gatsby pleading with him, Look here, old sport,
youve got to get somebody for me. Youve got to try hard. I cant go through
this alone.
What do these passages indicate about Gatsbys character, and the char-
acter of Gatsbys associates.
6. Why do you think Henry Gatz took such great pride in his son?
7. Nick comments that the worn photo of Gatsbys house seemed more real to
[Mr. Gatz] now than the house itself. Compare this statement with Nicks
comment about the colossal vitality of [Gatsbys] illusion near the end of
Chapter 5 and the passage about Gatsbys Platonic conception of himself at
the beginning of Chapter 6. What do these things tell us about the extent to
which Gatsby and his father are able to dream and how they view reality?
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8. Mr. Gatz produces a list of Gatsbys resolves from his boyhood. It just shows
you, dont it? Gatz tells Nick. What does this list show about Gatsby?
9. What does the idea that Wolfshiem, a Jew, working in an office labeled The
Swastika Holding Company, and whistling the Rosary suggest about his
character? (Keep in mind that this novel was written and published prior to
World War II and the Jewish Holocaust. However, by the novels publication in
1925, the German Nazi Party was gaining influence with its ideas of racial
superiority, anti-Semitism, and German strength.)
10. Why might it be significant that Owl-eyes was the only person from all of
Gatsbys many parties to attend the funeral?
11. What might be symbolized by Nicks fantastic dream:
. . . a night scene by El Greco: a hundred houses, at once conven-
tional and grotesque, crouching under a sullen, overhanging sky
and a lustreless moon. In the foreground four solemn men in dress
suits are walking along the sidewalk with a stretcher on which lies
a drunken woman in a white evening dress. Her hand, which dan-
gles over the side, sparkles cold with jewels. Gravely the men turn
in at a housethe wrong house. But no one knows the womans
name, and no one cares.
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12. Jordan tells Nick:
You said a bad driver was only safe until she met another bad dri-
ver? Well, I met another bad driver, didnt I? I mean it was careless
of me to make such a wrong guess. I thought you were an honest,
straightforward person. I thought it was your secret pride.
How, according to Jordan, was Nick a bad driver, and, in essence, dishonest?
Consider their conversation outside the Buchanans house after Myrtles death
(near the end of Chapter 7) and their telephone conversation the next day
(middle of Chapter 8). What does Jordan seem to be asking of Nick in these
two scenes that might reveal Nick to be dishonest in some way?
13. What does Nick mean when he says that Tom and Daisy were careless?
14. Look at the last four paragraphs of the novel. What dream do you think Nick is
talking about? What is Nick saying about the ability to achieve ones dreams?
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Dig Deeper:
15. What are your dreams for your life? Make a brief list of some of them.
Consider the spiritual, physical, relational, educational, vocational, and finan-
cial areas of your life. Be specific and reasonable. Then, for each dream or goal,
write a sentence explaining how you hope to attain it.
16. Nick suggests at the end of the novel that it may be impossible to achieve our
dreams. What types of dreams might be difficult or impossible to attain? What
interferes with reaching your dreams?
17. Read Romans 5:15, 1 Timothy 6:1719, and Hebrews 10:23, 11:1. What is
the hope described in these verses? Why should we have this hope? How is
the hope described in these verses different from worldly hopes and dreams?
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1. Explain the significance of the books title: The Great Gatsby. Was Gatsby
great? If so, how? If not, what does the title mean?
2. Conflict is the struggle between opposing forces that acts as the basis of the plot
in most literature. Conflict can take five forms:
Man vs. Man: characters struggle against each other
Man vs. Nature: characters struggle against the natural world
Man vs. God (or Fate): characters struggle against the supernatural or
Man vs. Society: characters struggle against the laws or constrictions of
their social environments
Man vs. Himself: characters undergo an internal struggle between their oppos-
ing tendencies (temptations to do wrong, for example)
Rarely is only one conflict evident in a work of literature. Considering these
five forms, how would you characterize the conflict(s) Nick faces in the novel?
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3. How would you characterize Gatsbys conflict(s)?
4. Within the first few pages of the novel, what problem or question is presented
to readers that drives the story forward?
5. The climax of a novel is the turning point of the action. It is the point of the
story where interest and intensity peak. Where is the climax in this novel?
6. The resolution of a novel follows the climax. In the resolution plot complica-
tions are drawn to a close, problems are usually resolved, and questions are gen-
erally answered. What is resolved in the resolution of The Great Gatsby?
7. In Chapter 1, Nick tells us that after his experiences out East, he wanted no
more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart.
Discuss what glimpses Nick experienced. What, if anything, did Nick dis-
cover about the human heart?
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8. 1 Timothy 6:10 says that the love of money is the root of all evil. Do you
think any of the characters love money? If not, what do you think that they
do love? In addition, do you think that Fitzgerald agrees with the idea that the
love of money is the root of all evil? Why or why not? What things do you
think Fitzgerald sees as evil?
9. Has Nick changed or grown in this novel? Explain your answer.
10. How does Gatsby differ from the rest of the characters in the novel, particularly
the other Westerners?
11. In literature, a characters tragic flaw is a defect of character that ultimately
brings about his downfall. (Recall Nicks statement that he and the other
Westerners possessed some deficiency which made them unadaptable to
Eastern life.) Slightly different from the tragic flaw is a characters hamartia.
Hamartia, the Greek word for error or failure, refers to a persons fatal mistake
or false step that leads him to ruin.
Was Gatsbys tragic end caused by a fatal mistakeor hamartiaor did
he have some tragic flaw that caused him to meet his end? Explain your answer
with examples from the novel.
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12. Who do you think the novel is about: Nick Carraway or Jay Gatsby? Explain.
13. In the context of the novel. what might each of the following characters or
things symbolize? Explain each response.
a. The green light at the end of Daisys dock
b. The eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg
c. Jay Gatsby
d. Gatsbys possessions (particularly his car, his house, or his shirts)
14. The theme of a story is the main idea or message communicated by a story.
Themes often reflect an authors perceptions of life or the human condition.
What theme (or themes) do you see present in The Great Gatsby? Give exam-
ples to show how that theme is communicated through the story.
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Select any two of the following topics and write a one- to two-page essay discussing
each subject.
1. Some analyses of The Great Gatsby view it as a novel about the pursuit of the
American Dream. If it is, what does Fitzgerald conclude about the American
Dream in this novel? Use examples from the text to back up your conclusions.
2. Many people believe the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg represent God or the eyes of
God. If this is so, what do you think Fitzgerald is saying about God and His
relationship to the characters of the novel?
3. The Great Gatsby is full of descriptive passages that make use of color. Examine
Fitzgeralds use of color as he associates it with one of the characters or one of
the scenes (for example, Daisy as the golden girl, or the long white cake of
apartment houses). How does he use color to affect your impressions, or to cre-
ate subtle associations.
4. Read 2 Timothy 3:19 and Isaiah 5:1117. Compare these verses with the
characters and events in The Great Gatsby. Why do you think God speaks so
harshly in these verses? Why are these things displeasing to God?
5. Have any of the characters in The Great Gatsby changed for the better by the
end of the novel? Discuss why you believe the characters have or have not
learned and benefitted or grown from their experiences.
6. Trace your reactions and feelings about one or two of the following characters
through the novel. Discuss points in the story that illustrate or change your
impressions of the characters.
Nick Carraway Jordan Baker George Wilson
Jay Gatsby Tom Baker Meyer Wolfshiem
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Additional Resources
Other Books by F. Scott Fitzgerald:
Afternoon Of An Author published by Simon and Schuster
Babylon Revisited and Other Stories published by Simon and Schuster
The Beautiful and the Damned published by Simon and Schuster
Flappers and Philosophers published by Simon and Schuster
The Last Tycoon published by Simon and Schuster
The Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald published by Simon and Schuster
Tender is the Night published by Simon and Schuster
This Side of Paradise published by Simon and Schuster
Books of Related Interest:
The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy, published by Bantam
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, published by Bantam
The Financier by Theodore Dreisler, published by Plume
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, various publishers
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, published by Bantam
Doctor Faustus Christopher Marlowe, various publishers
Internet Resources:
The F. Scott Fitzgerald Centenary
Home Page
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