All American literature like all of American life-it often seems, is about the American Dream. And Francis Scott Fitzgerald has been identified with the American Dream. It was his subject, his matter above all and it was a subject that had come to fascinate readers everywhere.
The things that make a book great are subtle and complicated. Perhaps some of them are indefinable. But readers can at least touch on some of the basic elements that make The Great Gatsby what it is and on some of the meanings it has for perceptive readers.
Jordan Baker Daisy's beautiful friend and Nick's sometime lover. Jordan is one of the new women of the 1920s-cynical, boyish, and self-centered. She cheated to win her first golf tournament and often bends the truth. Daisy Buchanan Nick's cousin and Gatsby's object of adoration. During the war, Daisy broke her promise to wait for Gatsby and married powerful, wealthy Tom Buchanan. Tom Buchanan Daisy's husband. Tom, who is a former member of Nick's social club at Yale, comes from old money. An arrogant, bigoted, powerful-built bully, Tom cheats on Daisy but is outraged at the thought that Daisy and Gatsby may be having an affair. George Wilson, Myrtle's husband. George Wilson is the lifeless, exhausted owner of a run-down auto shop at the edge of the valley of ashes. Myrtle Wilson, Tom's lover and George wife. Myrtle is fiercely vital and desperate to improve her lot in life. Tom threats her as a mere object of desire.
Nick Carraway, the narrator, is the other sort of hero in this novel. As he tells himself, Nick is slow-thinking. He does not learn immediately from his experience with Gatsby, but slowly, and in retrospect. Jay Gatsby is a mythic character. ...