What is the Great Gatsby about?
The novel starts with wise words, which the main narrator, Nick Carraway, once heard from his father.
“Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
These words become a marker of the whole story.
The storyteller, Nick Carraway is a young man. He comes from Minnesota, from a prominent, well-to-do family. In the summer of 1922, he moves to New York after finishing his studies and starts learning about bond business, Wall Street and the life of the city. He rents a house in the West Egg district of Long Island. The district is all about wealthy people, who gained their first capital pretty recently and have no good social connections with people who’ve had their wealth for all their life. Thus, this district is considered to be the area of ‘new rich people.’
Nick unknowingly becomes the neighbor to the Gatsby, an incredibly wealthy man, who lives in a huge castle and throws an insanely big party every other weekend. Each Friday night the whole New York gets into cars and goes to Gatsby’s place without any invitation, as there is no need for it.
Nick differs from the people who typically live in the West Egg district. He graduated from Yale, he comes from a great family, and, most important he has a cousin living on the other side of the bay, in the East Egg district. Her name is Daisy and she is married to Tom, who was Nick’s classmate in Yale. One day Nick comes to visit them. There he meets Jordan Baker, a beautiful, young, but a cynical woman. They start a romantic relationship and spend a lot of time with Daisy and Tom. One night soon, while they all have dinner together, there is a strange phone call. Nick discovers, that Tom has a woman in the city. Her name is Myrtle Wilson. She is married to the worker of the valley of ashes, an industrial dumping ground between West Egg and the city. She and Tom have an affair for quite a long time. Nick is unwillingly dragged into the whole story and becomes its outside observer.
Also, he surprisingly gets a written invitation to another party thrown by Gatsby, so he appears there and meets the host. Jordan is also present among the guests. Nick sees her having a secret talk with Gatsby, after that she says, that ‘everything is clear now,’ but she can’t tell more, as she promised to keep Gatsby’s secret.
Gatsby, who was covered with mystery and rumors, appears to be a great guy, with an English accent, nice smile and he is always calling every man he meets an ‘old sport’. A bit later Gatsby invites Nick for lunch and tries to tell him his story, which sounds a bit made up. The point is to ask Nick for a favor, but it never happens, as the husband of Daisy appears out from nowhere at the same dining place. Gatsby disappears, but Jordan tells Nick the secret she found out on the party. Gatsby is secretly in love with Daisy, from the time they first met 5 years ago. Each party he throws was made only to impress her, and to make her come. But she never did. So now Gatsby wants some help from Nick. He should invite Daisy for a cup of tea, and there Gatsby would be able to meet her and finally talk to her. It happens. After a short awkwardness, they both reunite and start an affair.
After some time Tom begins to suspect Daisy in having a romantic relationship with Gatsby. He finds out where Gatsby comes from, who he is and where does all his wealth come from. By the time Daisy and Gatsby decide to reveal their affair, he already has the information to tell. The whole company, Nick, Jordan, Daisy, Gatsby, and Tom are in the city trying to escape the incredible summer heat. Tom reveals that Gatsby has an illegal business of selling bootlegged alcohol and is included in loads of other schemes. Tom accuses Gatsby of low birth and lack of proper upbringing. Gatsby becomes furious and attacks Tom. Daisy is shocked and tries to leave Gatsby. They both get into the Gatsby’s car and go back to the East Egg district. On their way, they accidentally hit Myrtle by car. She ran out, hoping that there is Tom in the car and he would take her away from her husband and the fight they’re having. She dies, Gatsby’s car did not stop.
Nick, Tom, and Jordan take the same road to go back home, so they see the dead body of Myrtle and her husband in grief. Tom blames Gatsby for murder and for being her lover in front of Myrtle’s husband to make him kill Gatsby. When they come back to East Egg, Nick suddenly sees Gatsby hiding in the garden. From Gatsby, he learns that Daisy was driving the car, but he never wants to reveal it to the public, so he takes the blame. He only wants her to come back to him.
Daisy stays home with her husband. Nick and Gatsby spend the night together. Gatsby tells Nick his real story, with all the details he was previously ashamed of. In the morning Nick has to go back to work. Gatsby stays home and waits for Daisy to call him. There appears George, Myrtle’s husband, and shoots Gatsby and afterward dramatically kills himself.
Gatsby gets a small funeral, as it appears he had no true friends, except for Nick. Daisy never comes, and stays with her husband and daughter. Nick ends his relationship with Jordan and moves to the Midwest district. He feels a huge aversion to all the people from East and West Egg. He also draws a parallel between Gatsby’s dream of a happy life with Daisy and the American dream of individualism and happiness. Both dreams are dead.
How many chapters are in The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby consists of nine chapters. Each of them slowly unfolds the story in front of the reader. Our Great Gatsby study guide tells you the whole story here, in the Plot Overview. We also discuss each chapter separately. So, at the very end, you will get a complete understanding of the story, even if have you never read it.