The Great Gatsby Chapter Summaries


Chapter 1

Nick moves to West Egg and tells us that he is very tolerant; people haven't had the "advantages he's had". He goes to Daisy's for dinner, the conversation they all have highlights prejudice (racism and sexism). Nick also gets a glimpse of Gatsby's longing (green light).

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Chapter 2

Nick goes to New York with Tom and his other woman; Myrtle. We see the Valley of Ashes and New York. Myrtle only cares about appearence and material possesions. There are many unhappy marriages in the novel - Buchanans, Wilsons and McKees. The working-class are treated badly and reminded of their position - Tom breaks Myrtle's nose when she mentions Daisy's name. Alcohol is a negative influence on the characters - lowers inhibitions; Myrtle openly sits on Tom's knee even though their both married to other people.

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Chapter 3

Nick goes to one of Gatsby's parties. We meet Owl Eyes - he admires the library and the fact the books are real, he praises Gatsby for maintaining the illusion he's a well-read gentleman. Gatsby is finally revealed. Party is full of bad behaviour - sexual promiscuity. Gatsby and Nick are both isolated people. Jordan develops as a love interest for Nick. 

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Chapter 4

Nick learns more about Gatsby, however his past remains ambigious. Gatsby's position is society is highlighted - able to get away with speeding. He also has criminal connections - Meyer Wolfsheim who "fixed the World Series". Jordan reveals Gatsby and Daisy's past. Gatsby's dream is a corruption of the American Dream. 

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Chapter 5

Gatsby and Daisy are reunited. Fitzegerald questions Nick's morality - claims he doesn't agree with Tom and Myrtle's affair but helps Gatsby and Daisy meet.Gatsby's stuck in the past. Him and Daisy are present sympathetically. Appearences are important in this chapter - Gatsby presents himself in a luxurious way to Daisy.

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Chapter 6

Gatsby's past is revealed (really named "Jay Gatz"). Gatsby was created in pursuit of American Dream. Class prejudices become clearer - East Egg comunnity accept Gatsby's generosity "without gratitude" and leave without him. Daisy attends one of Gatsby's parties. Gatsby wants to recover the past with Daisy.

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Chapter 7

Tom finds out about Daisy's affair. Gatsby puts an end to his parties. Daisy tries to stir things up - openly flirts with Gatsby, reveals to Tom she loves Gatsby; "You always look so cool". Tom and Wilson realise they've lost control of their wives. Tom confronts Gatsby about his affair. Daisy kills Myrtle while driving Gatsby's car.

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Chapter 8

Gatsby's dream is dead. Gatsby tells Nick his real past. Nick grows tired of the Egg community - repuled by their lack of care and shallow behaviour. Fitzgerald draws parallels between Gatsby and Wilson - both dreamers who idolise the women they love. Dream finally dies - Gatsby takes the blame for killing Myrtle and Wilson shoots him and then commits suicide.

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Chapter 9

Nick picks up the pieces after Gatsby's death. Gatsby's funeral reveals the emptiness of the American Dream. Nick returns to theme of Geography. Nick's moral superiroty is challenged - his inital claims of not judging anyone and that he's moral and honest are proven to be false. Last line sums up the message of the novel - Gatsby represents humanity's endless capacity for hope even when all the evidence suggests no one can escape the past.

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