The Great Gatsby Book summary

F. Scott Fitzgerald




Plot Summary

“The Great Gatsby” is narrated by Nick Carraway, a man just approaching age 30, who is seeking success in the bonds business on the Eastern Seaboard. Nick’s role in the book is as an active participant in many events, but more importantly is that of observer and commentator. The story is related from the perspective of Nick recalling the events of a few years prior, regarding the brief period of time in which his life crossed paths with his wealthy neighbor, Jay Gatsby.  

The story offered by Nick is that of a man, Jay Gatsby, in his early 30’s, who believes that his lack of wealth was what prevented him from being with his long-time love, Daisy. Over a few years, he struggles to make money, in shady and illegal ways. His goal of “earning” her love back is his sole motivation. His love is true, but he believes that wealth is what will bring her back.  

The entanglement of marital affairs with Gatsby and Daisy, as well as Daisy’s husband Tom (who is involved in yet another marital affair), leads to a web of deceit, manipulation, and mistrust. Nick reflects often upon the shallowness of many characters, from the countless guests at Gatsby’s wildly popular and very frequent parties, to that of those characters closest to him, who find money’s power to be more important than that of actual values and morals.  

Nick and Gatsby spend time discussing many things, from Gatsby’s mysterious past, to Gatsby’s hopeless dreams of recapturing the past and living happily forever after with Daisy. Nick finds Gatsby’s thoughts amusing at best, disturbing and sad at other times.  

Gatsby’s attempts to win back his lost love, by getting her to renounce her love for her husband Tom, lead to catastrophic results. One evening, Daisy and Gatsby are driving, in Tom’s car, with Daisy at the wheel. Tom’s mistress enters the roadway, and Daisy hits the woman, killing her. Daisy does not stop.  

A few minutes later, Nick, Jordan, and Tom, in Gatsby’s car, come across the scene of the accident. Tom is distraught, as the victim is his mistress. He offers information to the dead woman’s husband that Gatsby is a likely suspect. The husband then seeks out Gatsby and kills him, before turning the gun on himself.  

Nick’s reflection at the end of the book touches upon many of the shortcomings of human nature. Gatsby’s own belief that money and fortune were what would bring his lover back to him is contrasted by the shallow people Gatsby had claimed as friends. Upon his passing, those who had been so willing to consume his gifts suddenly vanish into the ether. The relationships that money had brought had no depth, no meaning. Nick has been witness to so many facets of human depravity, weakness, and failure that he is now repulsed by this fortune-based lifestyle, and decides to move back to the Midwest.   

  • Author(s)

    F. Scott Fitzgerald
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Novel, Literature


 Charles Scribner's Sons