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The Great Gatsby Study Guide

English III - Dennis

MAJOR THEMES
1. Outward appearances can be deceptive.
2. Attainment of a dream may be less satisfying than the pursuit of that
dream.
3. Wealth can breed carelessness.
4. Blind pursuit of an ideal is destructive.
5. The American Dream is corrupted by the desire for wealth.

Chapters 1—3
1. Who is the novel’s narrator? What details does the reader learn about
his background and what is revealed about his personality? Why does
he go east, and where does he live?
2. Who are Tom and Daisy Buchanan? What does Nick learn about Tom
when he joins the Buchanans for dinner?
3. Describe some of the similarities between Myrtle and Tom’s party in
New York and Gatsby’s huge affairs in West Egg.
4. One of the novel’s themes concerns the deceptiveness of outward
appearances. How does the character of Myrtle Wilson illustrate this
theme? On what basis does Myrtle choose the men with whom she
becomes involved?
5. At the conclusion of Chapter 3, Nick says, “I am one of the few honest
people that I have ever known.” To what kind of honesty do you think
he refers? In what way is his claim questioned in the novel? Does he
do anything to cause you to question his honesty? Why is the question
of Nick’s honesty significant?
6. Why do you think Daisy scorns the fact that she is “sophisticated”?
7. In Chapter 2, Myrtle Wilson says of the elevator boy, “These people!
You have to keep after them all the time.” Why is this ironic?
8. How does Fitzgerald’s use setting to emphasize the difference between
social classes?
9. Would you want to be a part of the established upper class, like Daisy
and Tom, or the nouveau riche like Gatsby?
10.At this point, what do you think will happen to the relationship between
Myrtle Wilson and Tom
11.Buchanan? What kind of marriage would the two likely to have?

Chapters 4—6
1. What are some of the rumors that people spread about Jay Gatsby?
2. What does Nick learn about Gatsby and Daisy from Jordan Baker?
3. Who is Meyer Wolfsheim, and what are some interesting aspects of his
character? What is implied about his relationship to Gatsby?
4. Why does Gatsby go through such a complicated process to arrange to
meet Daisy?
5. Reread the last 3 paragraphs of Chapter 6. What are Gatsby’s
“unutterable visions”? How does this passage explain the next five
years of his life?
6. Why is it important to Gatsby that Daisy see his house and
possessions? What does Daisy’s reaction to his shirts suggest?
7. Why does Nick say in Chapter 5, “Now it was again a green light on a
dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished the one”?
8. At the end of Chapter 5, Nick sees that “the expression of
bewilderment had come back into Gatsby’s face, as though a faint
doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness.”
Why do you think Gatsby looks bewildered? How does his apparent
bewilderment relate to the idea that a dream attained may be less
satisfying than a dream pursued?
9. Through the characters Fitzgerald symbolizes the Jazz Age. What do
the people’s names and descriptions say about their personalities and
about the Jazz Age in general? What is the significance of these names
being written on a disintegrating timetable?
10.Explain what Nick calls the “singularly appropriate education” Gatsby
got from working for Cody.

Chapters 7—9
1. How do Tom, Daisy, Gatsby, Nick, and Jordan get to New York at the
beginning of Chapter 7?
2. At the end of Chapter 7, why does Nick comment that Gatsby was
“watching over nothing”?
3. Why does Nick tell Gatsby, “They’re a rotten crowd…You’re worth the
whole damn bunch put together?”
4. Nick says that just before Gatsby was shot, “…he must have felt that
he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long
with a single dream.” How would you interpret this passage? In what
way does it summarize the main thrust of the novel?
5. Why is Daisy unable to say that she never loved Tom? Why do you
think Gatsby is unable to accept the fact that she has loved them
both?
6. Nick’s strongest judgment of Tom and Daisy comes at the end when he
says, “They were careless people…they smashed up things and
creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast
carelessness…and let other people clean up the mess they had
made…” Why do you think he is a person who withholds judgment—
and makes this harsh statement? How do you think Nick feels about
the Buchanans’ wealth?
7. Why do you think none of Gatsby’s social and business associates
come to his funeral?
8. What conflict(s) does Nick experience in the novel?
9. What are some of the symbols used in The Great Gatsby?
What ideas are represented by these symbols:
A. What does the Valley of Ashes represent?
B. What is the significance of the color of the light at the end of
Daisy’s dock?
C. Why is Daisy’s voice “full of money”?
D. What is the significance of the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg?
E. What is the significance of Gatsby’s boyhood schedule?
10. Briefly explain how The Great Gatsby illustrates the contention that the
American Dream has been corrupted by the desire for wealth. Refer to the
information about Gatsby’s Dream for parallels to the American Dream in
formulating your answer.

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