By Johannes Helmold
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Published in 1925 and authored by American F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby is considered a great American novel. However, at the time it was published, it was not popular and got mixed reviews. It took World War II to bring it into the limelight, and the novel became increasingly famous after the death of the author. Today, it is commonly read in U.S. schools nationwide as an example of a literary masterpiece.
The plot begins with Nick Carraway, the narrator. He is a young man from Minnesota that goes to New York in 1922 to apprentice in the bond business. He takes up housing in a new rich area of Long Island and feels disconnected from his surroundings. One of his neighbors catches his attention: Jay Gatsby. He is always throwing parties in his mansion.
Nick drives out to the eastside one evening to see his cousin Daisy for dinner. During the event, his cousin and his cousin’s husband introduces Nick to Jordan Baker. She catches his eye, and soon they begin a romantic relationship. Through the course of the romance, Nick learns from Jordan that Tom, Daisy’s husband, is having an affair. Soon after knowing about this situation, the protagonist travels with Tom and his mistress Myrtle to a party. During the fun, Myrtle starts saying bad things about Daisy, and Tom rages and breaks Myrtle’s nose.
Eventually, Nick gets an invitation from Gatsby to come to one of his parties. He meets Jordan there as well. Gatsby appears to be a man with an English accent, young, and smiles with magnetism. As Nick talks to Jordan at the party, he learns that Gatsby was in love with Daisy way back. In fact, the parties are just an act to get Daisy interested in him. Gatsby approaches Nick and asks him to find a way to arrange a meeting with Daisy. Soon, Nick invites Daisy to his apartment for tea, without Daisy knowing that Gatsby will be there. After encountering each other again, they begin an affair.
In the course of time, Tom starts to suspect his wife of cheating on him with Gatsby. At one luncheon, Tom notices that Gatsby is staring at Daisy without inhibition, and determines that he is love with his wife. Despite himself being in an affair, he seems to not be able to fathom that his wife could be engaging in an affair behind his back. This prompts him to take action. He drives his family to New York City, where he meets with Gatsby at a hotel. He tells Gatsby that his relationship with Daisy is special and that nothing can break their relationship. He even tells Daisy to go back with Gatsby to the east side, despite Daisy saying that she still loves Tom. Through these conversations, we realize that Gatsby’s wealth stems mostly from criminal activities that involve selling illegal alcohol and other punishable activities.
Daisy and Gatsby drive home, and Myrtle comes out on the street, as she thinks it is Tom picking her up at a gas station. Daisy hits Myrtle and kills her, as she was driving the car. However, Gatsby decides to take the blame for the accident. He does it to impress Daisy and to see if she will be with him. Yet, this does not change her mind, and she goes back to Tom shortly after.
Tom, Jordan, Nick, and the husband of Myrtle, George, investigates the accident scene, and determine that Gatsby’s car killed Myrtle. George even believes that Gatsby was Myrtle’s lover as well. During this process, Nick breaks up with Jordan, as she seems unsympathetic to what has occured.
Through conversations with Gatsby and the other characters, we learn that Gatsby was in love with Daisy before Tom married her. He was an officer in the army, and he was sent out to battle in WWI. When he came back from the War, he was determined to win back the heart of Daisy.
A day after the car accident, George murders Gatsby in his swimming pool. He promptly shoots himself as well. The police arrive, but intentionally leave out many facts in the report—probably to safeguard relationships with rich people.
Nick arranges a funeral for Gatsby, but no one comes out of fear and detachment. Only Gatsby’s father shows up and he presents Nick a plan Gatsby made as a child to improve himself.
After all these events occurred, Nick gives up on New York altogether, and goes back to the Midwest.
A dramatic story of wealth, love, lust, and crime, The Great Gatsby is tale of caution and insight about modern American life.
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