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The Great Gatsby, Essential Revision Notes

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Table of Contents

Context 5

Summary 7

Characters 9

Nick Carraway 9

Jay Gatsby 9

Daisy Buchanan 11

Tom Buchanan 12

Jordan Baker 12

Myrtle Wilson 12

George Wilson 12

Owl Eyes 12

Klipspringer 12

Meyer Wolfsheim 12

Themes, Motifs, and Symbols 13

Themes 13

The Decline of the American Dream in the 1920s 13

The Hollowness of the Upper Class 14

Motifs 14

Geography 14

Weather 15

Symbols 15

The Green Light 15

The Valley of Ashes 15

The Eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg 15

Important Quotations Explained 16

1. 16

2. 16

3. 16

4. 17

5. 17

Sample Answers 19

Discuss Gatsby’s character as Nick perceives him throughout the novel. What makes Gatsby “great”? 19

What is Nick like as a narrator? Is he a reliable storyteller, or does his version of events seem suspect? How do his qualities as a character affect his narration? 20

What are some of The Great Gatsby’s most important symbols? What does the novel have to say about the role of symbols in life? 21

How does the geography of the novel dictate its themes and characters? What role does setting play in The Great Gatsby? 22

Context

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896, and named after his ancestor Francis Scott Key, the author of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Fitzgerald was raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. Though an intelligent child, he did poorly in school and was sent to a New Jersey boarding school in 1911. Despite being a mediocre student there, he managed to enrol at Princeton in 1913. Academic troubles and apathy plagued him throughout his time at college, and he never graduated, instead enlisting in the army in 1917, as World War I neared its end.

Fitzgerald became a second lieutenant, and was stationed at Camp Sheridan, in Montgomery, Alabama. There he met and fell in love with a wild seventeen-year-old beauty named Zelda Sayre. Zelda finally agreed to marry him, but her overpowering desire for wealth, fun, and leisure led her to delay their wedding until he ...

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