A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of
its decadence and excess, The Great Gatsby captured the spirit of the author's
generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology.
Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and
his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise
of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic
future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no
matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one
fine morning--"Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes
a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.
It's also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby's quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means--and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. "Her voice is full of money," Gatsby says admiringly. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy's patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout.