The following is a review of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald but narrated by Nick Carraway.
The novel opens in 1922 when Nick has just relocated from Midwest to West Egg in search of his fortune as a bond salesperson. Shortly upon his arrival, he travels to the more opulent East Egg in search of his cousin, Daisy Buchanan and her husband, Tom.
Tom is one hunky man. Nick had known him before when they were together in college. He meets Jordan Baker, a golfer who, much like his cousin and her husband, lives a sensible luxurious life, unlike him with his humble, grounded lifestyle. He gets back home in the evening and notices his neighbour and the novel’s protagonist, Gatsby looking perplexed in the dark.
The subsequent events revolve around Tom, a shameless adulterer, the naïve narrator, Myrtle Wilson, wife of a garage and gas station owner and her friend. After journeying to the city, far from the desolate neighbourhood, the four engage in lots of drinking. Eventually, the day-out ends tragically when Tom and Myrtle engage in a feisty fight leaving her nose broken.
Nick uses the incident to bring into focus the book’s main character and his mysterious ways. Gatsby, his cagey neighbour, throws weekly parties for the rich and invites Nick who ends up meeting Jordan Baker. The host seems more of an observer than a participant, which is somewhat creepy.
Summer arrives, marking the start of the narrator and the protagonist’s robust friendship. But, Nick isn’t so comfy about Jordan and Gatsby seemingly blooming friendship. Gatsby and Nick travel to the city for some criminal deals. Nick later learns about his cousin’s previous romantic relationship with Gatsby. A series of cunning plans involving a host of individuals are made, all of them aimed at uniting Gatsby with Daisy. The reunion pitting him and his girlfriend will be held in his apartment.
The day finally arrives and Gatsby looks happy with Daisy, making Nick somewhat cold in the midst of the two. The rest of the events entail moving the party from Nick’s house to Gatsby’s meticulously decorated house. It signals the start of yet another theme.
Now called Jay Gatsby, but born James Gatz, his notable transitions in life highlights his pursuits to look and live opulently, perhaps to attract his lover. A secret meeting between Gatsby and Daisy under the watchful eye of Nick before the end of the party helps the narrator understand what Gatsby is up to. Thereafter, the pair seemingly appears into each other more as Tom is back at his best, chasing more girls.
The summer heat gets unbearable, prompting the two parties to go out in the city. But, the trip doesn’t go as planned as Tom loses his wife, Daisy, and his mistress, Myrtle, almost immediately. They end up in Plaza hotel where the battle for Daisy heats up. Will she settle for Gatsby newly found wealth or Tom’s vast fortune?
An accident back home nears Wilson's garage, and everyone points at Gatsby. Daisy, who was driving Gatsby’s car, had killed Myrtle, and Gatsby agrees to take up the blame. Nick is agitated by what has happened and can’t concentrate any longer. An enraged George Wilson ends up killing Gatsby before turning the gun on himself.
It’s somewhat perplexing that no one seems bothered by Gatsby’s death, including his business associates, Daisy and Tom. As everyone embarks on a trip, Nick is left arranging for his accomplice's burial. Eventually, Gatsby’s father, Henry Gatz, arrives from Minnesota to bury his son.
Nick prepares to head back home but accidentally meets Tom. He refuses to shake his hand, and after a series of confusing happenings, the story comes to a saddening end.
The title brings that touch of anticipation, and it’s the end of the novel that offers the real reason for the heading. Gatsby strived to get out of his poor neighbourhood, and his lacklustre past and somehow did it. He wined, dined and danced with the opulent, but died a poor man. Not even his friends who used to frequent his weekly parties could mourn. “We are all like Gatsby, striving to go up a river and the forces of our past can’t quite leave us.”
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