Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Great Gatsby Notes

v     This story, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, takes place in the summer of 1922, in New York, on Long Island, in the fictional town of West Egg.


v     Because of the time and setting of this book, it's considered a portrayal of the Jazz Age, also called the Roaring Twenties, when the economy was booming, alcohol was illegal (1920-1933), and the mafia first grew into an international organization.

v     This story serves as a cautionary tale against excess (výstrednosť), decadence (úpadok), and the American dream - the idea that if you work hard and save, your children will have a better life.

v     Mostly ignored in his lifetime, this story grew in popularity after Fitzgerald's death. In 1998, it was chosen America's best novel by the Modern Library, a publishing company.

v     The characters are:

      Nick Carraway - A young bond salesman, and narrator of the story.
      Jay Gatsby - a mysterious millionaire who lives in a mansion (sídlo) next to Nick.
      Tom Buchanan - A millionaire, with a large mansion on Long Island. He's strong, athletic, short
                                   tempered, and racist. He went to the same university as Nick - Yale, where he
                                   was the star football player.
      Daisy Buchanan - Wife of Tom, and Nick's second cousin. Gatsby secretly loves her.
      Jordan Baker - An attractive young lady, and friend of the Buchanans. Her name came from two
                                 car companies, Jordan Motor Cars, and Baker Motor Vehicles, indicating that
                                 she was "fast".
      George Wilson - A mechanic and owner of a garage in a poor and dirty part of Long Island,
                                   which Jordan calls "the valley of ashes". He's considered very stupid.
      Myrtle Wilson - George's attractive wife. Tom is having an affair with her. George knows she's
                                  cheating, but doesn't know who to blame.
      Meyer Wolfshiem - A mob boss, and Gatsby's mentor, although he only appears twice in the 
                                        story.

The Plot (Spoiler Alert!!!)

1. The story begins with Nick, a young and optimistic WWI vet, moving to New York and starting work as a bond salesman. He rents a small home which just happens to be next to Gatsby's mansion.

2. Nick is invited to dinner at the Buchanans', who live in another mansion, just across from Gatsby's across the water. Tom and Daisy play match-maker, setting Nick up with Jordan Baker. And, if these characters were decent people, this is where the story would end.

3. So, Tom and Myrtle are having an affair (Tom's cheating on his wife). They invite Nick to a secret party in a little apartment they share in New York City (NYC). At the party, Tom gets drunk and breaks Myrtle's nose, because she keeps pestering him about leaving his wife.

4. Nick and Jordan are invited to Gatsby's mansion for a huge party, where they meet Gatsby for the first time. It turns out Nick and Gatsby served in the same division of the army during WWI.

5. Jordan tells Nick about how Gatsby still loves Daisy, and how they had dated just five years earlier. Gatsby still loves her, and hopes his huge parties will impress her enough to come visit.

6. Gatsby convinces Nick to help him. Nick invites Daisy to his little home for tea, where Gatsby is waiting. Gatsby and Daisy begin having an affair of their own, and Tom begins to be suspicious.

7. Tom invites Nick, Daisy, and Gatsby to a suite at the Plaza Hotel in NYC. There he confronts Gatsby, telling Daisy that Gatsby's a criminal - that he's earned all his money from bootlegging (bottling, transporting, and selling alcohol illegally. The term comes from people hiding bottles of alcohol in their boots). Daisy realizes she has to choose Tom, and Tom, in triumph, lets Gatsby drive her home, knowing he'll have no more luck with Daisy.

8. Here's where the tragedy begins. Nick and Tom drive home to discover there's been an accident by George Wilson's garage. Gatsby's car hit and killed Myrtle. Everyone assumes Gatsby was driving, but he wasn't. Daisy was, and she'd been drinking. She confesses this to Nick, but swears him to secrecy. Gatsby wants to take the blame to protect her.

9. George believes that it was Gatsby sleeping with his wife, and that he killed her to keep her quiet. So, taking a gun, he finds Gatsby at his house, shoots him, and then shoots himself. Nick hosts the funeral for Gatsby, which no one attends, and the Buchanans act like nothing every happened. Disgusted, Nick quits his job and returns home to the Midwest. He doesn't like the fact that a criminal like Gatsby was the only decent, honorable man he'd met in New York.

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