The Great Gatsby Characters

Published in 1925, The
Great Gatsby reflects the
lifestyle of 1920s
Post WWI era known as
“The Jazz Age.”
Prohibition is law: drinking is
Fitzgerald presents characters of middle and upper-class
He shows how social
groups do not interact
with each other
The novel shows social
upheaval and
He depicts danger of shaky values and immoral leadership
He challenges the “American Dream”
The Great Gatsby
Jay Gatsby: protagonist;
newly wealthy Midwesterner
turned Easterner.
Nick Carraway: story’s
narrator; Yale graduate; 29;
well-off but not Gatsby-rich;
served in WW I.; bond
salesman who rents small
house next to Gatsby’s
The Great Gatsby
Tom Buchanan: ex-football star
from Yale; 30; wealthy and
physically strong; primitive;
cheating on his wife.
Daisy Buchanan: from wealthy
Louisville family; Nick’s distant
cousin; 23; apparently knows
Gatsby somehow.
Pammy Buchanan: Tom and
Daisy’s daughter; a child of the
Jazz Age (little parental contact).
Daisy says of Pammy: “I suppose
she talks, and – eats, and
The Great Gatsby
Jordan Baker: professional
golfer; young, single, and
wealthy; admired; shallow.
Myrtle Wilson: Tom’s married
lover; represents lower class;
enters world of upper class
through her affair with Tom.
George Wilson: Myrtle’s
husband; runs gas
station/garage in “valley of
ashes”; represents despair of
economically trapped lowermiddle class.
Catherine: Myrtle’s sister; aware
of Myrtle’s secret life and enjoys
its benefits.
The Great Gatsby: Chapters 1-2
 We learn something
happens during this
summer to change Nick’s
sense of tolerance; we just
don’t know what, yet.
 Daisy pretends discontent
with Tom, her daughter and
the world to elicit Nick’s
sympathy. But she is really
just complacent about life:
no real feeling or
commitment about
Chapters 1-2
Myrtle’s emotions seem as
changeable as her clothing.
She does a laughable job of
trying to escape her lowerclass life and ways with
gestures and laughter that
do not quite fit the high
society to which she
Chapters 1-2
 Hope/paradox: Nick
says Gatsby
everything for which I
have an unaffected
scorn,” yet it is Gatsby’s
capacity for hope that
makes Nick’s
paradoxical admiration
Chapters 1-2
 By attaching herself to Tom,
Myrtle thinks that makes
her upper class.
Corruption of the American
 Myrtle is under the same
illusion that we’ll later see in
Gatsby: the dream that
material wealth lets one rise
above one’s origins and
ultimately buy happiness.
Chapters 1-2
 Nick tries to get some
fresh air at the party but
keeps getting sucked
back in. This becomes
symbolic of the entire
 T.J. Eckleburg, an oculist,
watches over the “Valley
of Ashes.” His huge eyes,
on an old billboard, “look
out of no face.”
Chapters 1-2
 Tom’s affair is the
exciting force that
sets off the conflict
between the desire
to know the truth
about life and the
attraction toward
what is illusory.
Tips for vocabulary quizzes
Determine what part of speech is needed.
Once you know that, you can eliminate the
choices that don’t match.
For example, if the girls were “putting their
head on men’s shoulders in a puppyish,
convivial way…” convivial is an adjective
describing “way.” So in your list of choices,
narrow it down to adjectives.
Vocabulary tips
Search out the root of the word. For example, what is the
root of the highlighted word:
A momentary hush; the orchestra leader varies his rhythm
obligingly for her and there is burst of chatter as the
erroneous news go around that she is Gilda Gray’s
understudy from the “Follies.”
The root is “error.” We all know that an error is a mistake.
Is there a definition on the list pertaining to mistake? If so,
that’s likely the definition you seek.
Let’s try one from an upcoming list
Gatsby took an arm of each of us and moved forward into the restaurant whereupon
Mr. Wolfshiem swallowed a new sentence he was starting and lapsed into a
somnambulatory abstraction.
Somnambulatory describes abstraction (which is a noun), so it is an adjective.
Our root is somna, joined with ambulatory.
What word do we know that relates to somna?
Insomnia: pertaining to sleep.
How about ambulatory?
Amble: to saunter, or walk. Ambulance. What does an ambulance do? It moves or
transports from one place to another.
So we put those two together: sleep and walking or movement. If we move in our
sleep from place to another, what are we doing?
Is that close to one of our choices? How about the one that states “to walk in a
sleep-like condition”?

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