Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Great Gatsby: a great question

I. Grammar Stage Inquiry [The What]

Who is (are) the central character(s) in this book? James Gatz A.K.A. Jay Gatsby

What is the book’s most important event? This is the event in which the main character changes the most.   

I am stumped.  I want to say that the most important event is the accident that kills Myrtle, however it does not seem to affect Gatsby.  It affected others, including myself, but Gatsby is completely oblivious to what has just happened; he does not even consider how it will completely change his life after he takes the blame for Daisy.

In fact, he does not seem to change throughout the entire story.  From the time we meet him as a mysterious man who hosts extravagant parties for the wealthy and powerful to the end of the book, he is still dreaming about Daisy who does not care about anyone but herself.  The only time we get an inkling of any change from Gatsby is when we hear a story about how, as a poor, restless young man, he worked for five years with Dan Cody, a wealthy man, on his yacht and came away seduced by wealth and power; I believe it was then that he became committed to gaining that wealth and power for himself.

However, then I spoke with an avid Great Gatsby extraordinaire who carries a copy of The Great Gatsby on her person at all times, and she was certain that the story was about Nick: he’s the one who changes drastically.  But if she had to choose when Gatsby changes, she suggested it was in his youth, when he wrote that list of self-improvement and decided not to follow in his parents’ footsteps but to (in my words) “blaze his own trail.”  From then on, he plotted to be "Jay Gatsby."  Then again, she thought maybe Gatsby changed most when he took the bullet for Daisy.  He just had to.

What do you think?  What is the most important event in The Great Gatsby, and do you think Gatsby ever changes within the story?  If so, when???


  1. I had a hard time with that question too! For Nick, it was fairly easy - Gatsby's death caused his change. But the story really isn't about Nick, it's about Gatsby. And I don't think he actually changed in the novel itself. The climax, for me, was the group at the hotel - Daisy, Tom, Nick, Jordan, and Gatsby - when Gatsby finally comes out and tells Nick about the affair. He expected Daisy to admit all and leave her husband. Even up to the time he died he expected her to make that choice. If the story had continued, he would have changed when he discovered her true nature. But he didn't live long enough for that to occur.

    1. Tonia, when I read your response, I found myself thinking about how it became obvious that Daisy was NOT going to leave Tom, even though just awhile ago she told Gatsby she loved him. She was a fraud. Even Tom knew she would not leave him for Gatsby, and he sent her home with him. So I can see how that event was also a turning point. Thanks!