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Great Gatsby Study Guide through Chapter 6 Essay


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The Great Gatsby Study Guide
A Progeny Press Study Guide
by Calvin Roso
with Andrew Clausen, Michael Gilleland
Copyright © 1998 Progeny Press
All rights reserved.
Reproduction or translation of any part of this work
beyond that permitted by Section 107 or 108 of the
1976 United States Copyright Act without the written
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addressed to Reprint Permissions, Progeny Press,
PO Box 100, Fall Creek, WI 54742-0100.
Printed in the United States of America.
ISBN 978-1-58609-363-1 Book
978-1-58609-607-6 CD
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© 1998 Progeny Press

The Great Gatsby Study Guide

Table of Contents
Note to Instructor ………………………………………………………………………………………..4 Synopsis ……………………………………………………………………………………………………..5 Background Information ………………………………………………………………………………6 About the Author …………………………………………………………………………………………7 Ideas for Pre-reading Activities ……………………………………………………………………….8 Chapter 1 …………………………………………………………………………………………………10 Chapter 2
…………………………………………………………………………………………………19 Chapter 3 …………………………………………………………………………………………………27 Chapter 4 …………………………………………………………………………………………………33 Chapter 5 …………………………………………………………………………………………………39 Chapter 6 …………………………………………………………………………………………………45 Chapter 7 …………………………………………………………………………………………………51 Chapter 8 …………………………………………………………………………………………………57 Chapter 9 …………………………………………………………………………………………………61 Summary ………………………………………………………………………………………………….66 Essays ………………………………………………………………………………………………………70 Additional Resources ………………………………………………………………………………….71 Answer Key ……………………………………………………………………………………………….72

© 1998 Progeny Press


The Great Gatsby Study Guide

Note to Instructor
How to Use Progeny Press Study Guides. Progeny Press study guides are designed to help students better understand and enjoy literature by getting them to notice and understand how authors craft their stories and to show them how to think through the themes and ideas introduced in the stories. To properly work through a Progeny Press study guide, students should have easy access to a good dictionary, a thesaurus, a Bible (we use NIV translation, but that is up to your preference; just be aware of some differences in language), and sometimes a topical Bible or concordance. Supervised access to the Internet also can be helpful at times, as can a good set of encyclopedias.

Most middle grades and high school study guides take from eight to ten weeks to complete, generally working on one section per week. Over the years, we have found that it works best if the students completely read the novel the first week, while also working on a prereading activity chosen by the parent or teacher. Starting the second week, most parents and teachers have found it works best to work on one study guide page per day until the chapter sections are completed. Students should be allowed to complete questions by referring to the book; many questions require some cross-reference between elements of the stories.

Most study guides contain an Overview section that can be used as a final test, or it can be completed in the same way the chapter sections were completed. If you wish to perform a final test but your particular study guide does not have an Overview section, we suggest picking a couple of questions from each section of the study guide and using them as your final test.

Most study guides also have a final section of essays and postreading activities. These may be assigned at the parents’ or teachers’ discretion, but we suggest that students engage in several writing or other extra activities during the study of the novel to complement their reading and strengthen their writing skills. As for high school credits, most Christian high schools with whom we have spoken have assigned a value of one-fourth credit to each study guide, and this also seems to be acceptable to colleges assessing homeschool transcripts. Internet References

All websites listed in this study guide were checked for appropriateness at the time of publication. However, due to the changing nature of the Internet, we cannot guarantee that the URLs listed will remain appropriate or viable. Therefore, we urge parents and teachers to take care in and exercise careful oversight of their children’s use of the Internet. 4

© 1998 Progeny Press

The Great Gatsby Study Guide

“Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. . . . And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

—Ecclesiastes 2:11, 4:4
Having recently returned from military duty overseas during the Great War, Nick Carraway is restless and tired of his provincial life in the Midwest. He moves East to get into the bond market and soon finds himself living among the wealthy on Long Island.

Nick reacquaints himself with his cousin Daisy Buchanan and her husband Tom, and through them he meets the “incurably dishonest” Jordan Baker, for whom he begins to develop a romantic interest. Nick soon learns of Daisy’s deep unhappiness and Tom’s affair with Myrtle Wilson, a married woman. Before long, Nick is drawn inextricably into their lives.

Nick’s next-door neighbor is the extravagantly wealthy, but mysterious, Jay Gatsby. Even at his own lavish parties, Gatsby is the subject of rumors and speculation. Nick learns that Gatsby’s single dream, for which he has amassed all his wealth and possessions, is to win back the love of Daisy Buchanan, with whom he had a relationship some years earlier. Gatsby enlists Nick’s help in reuniting with Daisy, but Gatsby’s single-mindedness becomes his undoing as he seeks to relive the past. The Great Gatsby is considered a masterpiece of American literature, filled with symbolism and beautiful, well-crafted passages. Through it we are given a glimpse into the characters’ moral emptiness, selfishness, and narcissism.

© 1998 Progeny Press


The Great Gatsby Study Guide

Background Information
World War I made many Americans question the validity of traditional ideals. Literature and art denied the foundations of the past and strove to express the ideas of a new age. These new ideas were expressed during the “Jazz Age,” through a new philosophy called “modernism.”

The Jazz Age
During the Jazz Age, or the “Roaring Twenties,” the standard of living increased for most Americans. America experienced a general abandoning of the small-town, rural past in exchange for an urban, cosmopolitan lifestyle. The United States experienced enormous economic growth as Americans sought to forget the troubles of the war. The way many chose to do this was by simply enjoying life. Many enjoyed life through frivolous spending, illegal liquor, and immorality. Although the 18th Amendment to the Constitution prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, thousands turned to bootlegged liquor. Mob activity in the United States increased to supply the demand for what was once legal. The literature, art, and music of this time period reflected the nation’s changing values. Many authors attacked traditional values, while others, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson, and Ezra Pound, moved to Paris for some time, becoming labeled as “the lost generation,” or “expatriates.”

Modernism is an artistic trend that sought to find new ways to communicate in a world where past traditions, values, and ideals no longer applied. Modernist writers often sought to strip away descriptions of characters and setting while avoiding direct statements of theme and resolutions. This
“fragmented” style of writing theoretically enabled the reader to choose meaning for himself, while understanding that life itself was fragmented and without meaning.


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The Great Gatsby Study Guide

About the Author
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1896. He grew up with middle-class parents who constantly overextended themselves financially. In high school, Fitzgerald published fiction in the school magazine. While attending Princeton University, he also published fiction, and in addition, wrote amateur musical comedies. After Princeton, Scott left to join the Army. During his time in the Service, he wrote and published his first short story. It was also during this time that he fell in love with Zelda Sayre, a young southern belle who refused to marry him until he could prove that he could support her financially.

It was the success of his first novel, This Side of Paradise (1920), which portrayed undergraduate life at Princeton, that convinced Zelda that he could be successful. The subject and success of this novel also established Fitzgerald as the “golden boy” of the Jazz Age, whose writing epitomized the spirit of the time. The Fitzgeralds became a part of the wealthy, extravagant society that characterized the Roaring 20s. Spending time living in both New York and Europe, the glamorous couple mingled with famous celebrities, attending countless parties and spending money recklessly.

The decline of Fitzgerald’s personal and artistic life coincided with the end of the 1920s. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s reputation as a writer declined by the end of the 1920s and he was often forced to write “hack work” to make the money necessary to support the couple’s extravagant lifestyle. During this time, his addiction to alcohol also increased. In addition, rumors surfaced of Zelda’s having an affair in Europe. Later, Zelda suffered several nervous breakdowns and was eventually institutionalized with schizophrenia. She died in a fire in the hospital in 1938. After several attempts to regain his voice in literature through short stories, novels, and film writing, Fitzgerald died of a heart attack at age 44.

F. Scott Fitzgerald is best known as the leading writer of the Jazz Age, a man who was remarkably able to both live the life of the Roaring Twenties, yet write as a detached observer of it. His works include: This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby, The Beautiful and the Damned, Tender is the Night, and The Last Tycoon (unfinished). In addition, he published four volumes of short stories and a selection of autobiographical pieces. © 1998 Progeny Press


The Great Gatsby Study Guide

Ideas for Pre-reading Activities
1. Art work: Research clothing styles in 1920s America. Draw pictures or make a collage of clippings illustrating what men and women from the “Jazz Age” dressed and looked like.

2. The Lost Generation: Research American authors and artists from the postWWI era who were considered part of “the lost generation.” Write a one-page paper discussing who these artists were, why they left America, and what they believed regarding life, literature, and art.

3. Prohibition: Write a one-page informative essay regarding prohibition in the 1920s.
4. The American Dream: Write a one-page paper defining “the American Dream.” Discuss how the idea of the American Dream has changed through time. Conclude by discussing whether or not you think the American Dream is still possible to achieve, or whether it exists at all.

5. Materialism: Write a three- to five-paragraph personal essay about how you see materialism influencing society. How does the desire for money and possessions affect the way people think and plan? Do you find materialism influencing your own plans for college or your career?

6. As you read this novel, pay particular attention to the relationships between the people. Note how they treat each other, how they speak to each other, or how they seem to think about each other. On what are these relationships based? How do these relationships turn out?


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The Great Gatsby Study Guide

7. The Great Gatsby is known for its lavish descriptive passages. With just a few choice words Fitzgerald turns a small decrepit village into a metaphor for decay and death, or turns a small afternoon party into a near nightmare of smoke, babble, and motion. Look up the terms personification, metaphor, and simile, and see how Fitzgerald uses these literary devices throughout the novel.

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The Great Gatsby Study Guide

Chapter 1
“Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it was what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.”

Explain the meaning of the underlined word in each sentence below based on how that word is used in the sentence. You may need to use a dictionary.

Frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon. . .



2. Now he was a sturdy straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner.

3. There was a touch of paternal contempt in it, even toward the people he liked—and there were men at New Haven who had hated his guts.


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4. The other girl, Daisy, made an attempt to rise—she leaned slightly forward with a conscientious expression—then she laughed. . .

5. Slenderly, languidly, their hands set lightly on their hips, the two young women preceded us out onto a rosy-colored porch. . .

6. Sometimes she and Miss Baker talked at once, unobtrusively and with a bantering inconsequence that was never quite chatter . . . . . unobtrusively:


7. “This idea is that we’re Nordics. I am, you are, and you are, and—” After an infinitesimal hesitation he included Daisy with a slight nod, and she winked at me again.

8. Something was making him nibble at the edge of stale ideas as if his sturdy physical egotism no longer nourished his peremptory heart.

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The Great Gatsby Study Guide

Character Study:
We learn about characters through what they say, what they do, what others say about them, and how others react to them. We also learn about characters through the tone of the author and the narrator. In order to grasp the text, your goal should be to understand the main characters: their strengths, weaknesses, growth, etc. For each of the passages below, write down in one or two sentences what the passage reveals or suggests about the character listed.

1. Nick Carraway:
. . . I’m inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores. . . . Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope. I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that . . . a sense of fundamental decencies is parceled out unequally at birth.

2. Nick Carraway:
. . . after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that it has a limit. Conduct may be founded on the hard rock or the wet marshes but after a certain point I don’t care what it’s founded on. When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart.


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The Great Gatsby Study Guide

3. Jay Gatsby:
No—Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and shortwinded elations of men.

4. Jay Gatsby:
. . . he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone— he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward—and distinguished nothing

except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been at the end of the dock.

5. Tom Buchanan:
. . . [Tom was] one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of anticlimax. . . . Now he was a sturdy straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. . . . [His] was a body capable of enormous leverage—a cruel body.

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The Great Gatsby Study Guide

6. Daisy Buchanan:
. . . her low, thrilling voice. It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again. Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth— but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered, “Listen,” a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.

7. Jordan Baker:
The younger of the two [Jordan] was a stranger to me. She was extended full length at her end of the divan, completely motionless and with her chin raised a little as if she were balancing something on it which was quite likely to fall. If she saw me out of the corner of her eyes she gave no hint of it—indeed, I was almost surprised into murmuring an apology for having disturbed her by coming in.

1. In the opening lines of the novel, Nick, the narrator, recalls advice that his father gave him. What was this advice?


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The Great Gatsby Study Guide

2. Describe West Egg, where Nick lives. How does West Egg differ from East Egg? Which of the book’s characters live in each?

3. How is Nick related to Tom and Daisy Buchanan?

4. What does Nick learn about Tom, Daisy, and Jordan during the dinner party?

5. When Nick first sees Gatsby, where is Gatsby, and what is he doing?

6. What does Nick mean when he says that tolerance has a limit?

7. What does Nick say “preyed” on Gatsby? What do you think Nick means by this?

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8. What words or phrases suggest that Nick is initially optimistic about going East?

9. Personification is a common technique Fitzgerald uses in The Great Gatsby. Personification is the giving of human attributes to nonhuman things. For example, the sentence “The sun smiled down on the children at play” paints an image of the sun smiling—a human characteristic.

Nick’s description of the Buchanan’s lawn when he first arrives at their home is a perfect example of personification. Reread this description in the novel. What words or phrases give the lawn a sense of life and motion?

10. Note the imagery Fitzgerald uses to describe Daisy and Jordan when Nick first sees them:
The only stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house. . . . Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died

out about the room, and the curtains and the rugs and the two young women ballooned slowly to the floor.
What do you think Fitzgerald is suggesting about these two women through this
imagery? What other evidence is given in the chapter to support your idea?


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11. What ideas about race does Tom express? What does this reveal about Tom’s character?

12. How well do you think Nick fits in with those around him? Explain your answer.

13. How does Jordan respond to the idea of Tom’s affair? What does this say about her attitude toward marriage?

14. With what you have seen in the first chapter, how significant of a role do you think Tom and Daisy’s daughter plays in their lives? Why do you think Fitzgerald chose to give this couple a child?

Dig Deeper:
15. When Daisy and Nick are alone in the porch, Daisy explains her view of life: “You see I think everything’s terrible anyhow. . . . Everybody thinks so—the most advanced people. And I know. I’ve been everywhere and seen everything and done everything.”

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Read Ecclesiastes 2:1–2, 10–11. How does Daisy’s statement compare with the statement in these verses? Why do you think the pursuit of pleasure might
have this effect on people?

Optional Exercises:
• An allusion is a reference to an historical or literary person, place, or event with which the reader is assumed to be familiar. In Nick’s discussion of his journey East, he makes an allusion to “the shining secrets that only Midas and Morgan and Maecenas knew.” Research who these characters were and what their “secrets” were. What do these characters have to do with Nick’s career possibilities?


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The Great Gatsby Study Guide

Chapter 2
But above the grey land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg. The eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic—their retinas are one yard high. . . . his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground.

Choose the correct meaning of the underlined word in each sentence below based on how that word is used in the sentence. You may need to use a dictionary. 1. . . . ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who moved dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.

In the context of this passage, transcendent means:
a. extreme
b. performed
c. beyond comprehension
d. confusing
2. The only building in sight was a small block of yellow brick sitting on the edge of the waste land, a sort of compact Main Street ministering to it and contiguous to absolutely nothing. In the context of this passage, contiguous means:

a. indicative
b. adjacent
c. opposing
d. compared
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The Great Gatsby Study Guide

3. It had occurred to me that this shadow of a garage must be a blind and that sumptuous and romantic apartments were concealed overhead . . . In the context of this passage, blind means:
a. window shade
b. obstruction
c. decoy
d. darkness
4. . . . a tin of large hard dog biscuits—one of which decomposed apathetically in the saucer of milk all afternoon.
In the context of this passage, apathetically means:
a. impassively
b. endlessly
c. disgustingly
d. loosely
5. She came in with such a proprietary haste and looked around so possessively at the furniture that I wondered if she lived here.
In the context of this passage, proprietary means:
a. uninterested
b. aggressive
c. planned
d. owned or managed
6. The intense vitality that had been so remarkable in the garage was converted into impressive hauteur.
In the context of this passage, hauteur means:
a. performance
b. arrogance
c. frivolity
d. intensity


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The Great Gatsby Study Guide

7. “My dear,” she told her sister in a high mincing shout, “most of these fellas will cheat you every time.”
In the context of this passage, mincing means:
a. dainty or delicate
b. irritating/annoying
c. concise or pithy
d. youthful/childish
8. “Crazy about him!” cried Myrtle incredulously. “Who said I was crazy about him? I never was any more crazy about him than I was about that man there.” In the context of this passage, incredulously means:

a. nervously
b. amazingly
c. ironically
d. skeptically

1. List some of the descriptive words and phrases used to describe the setting in the first two paragraphs of Chapter 2.

2. Who, or what, is “Doctor T.J. Eckleburg”? Where is he seen? What does Doctor T.J. Eckleburg stare over?

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3. What is the proximity between the Wilsons’ home and the “valley of ashes,” or the “waste land?” What do you think this relationship says about their lives?

4. What does Myrtle’s sister tell Nick about Gatsby? What impression of Gatsby does this give you?

5. Why does Tom break Myrtle’s nose?

6. A symbol is something physical that represents something abstract. We identify symbols in literature through the author’s emphasis and the author’s use of repetition. We understand what symbols mean through the author’s tone and imagery.

In the beginning of Chapter 2, considerable time is spent describing the “valley of ashes.” What ideas or concepts does one generally associate with ashes? What do you think the “valley of ashes” between West Egg and New York symbolizes?


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7. Many analyses of The Great Gatsby suggest that the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg are a symbol for God. What evidence in Chapter 2 is there to support this idea? If this is “God” in the novel, what do you think Fitzgerald is saying by depicting God as a man-made advertisement overlooking a valley of ashes?

8. Twice Nick mentions the photograph on the wall of Myrtle’s apartment. How does he characterize or personify the photograph? How is the photograph similar to the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg?

9. The exterior of Myrtle’s apartment is described as “one slice in a long white cake of apartment houses.” What does this positive imagery imply? How does the outward appearance differ from the relationships within? Compare this idea with Christ’s imagery of the Pharisees as “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 23:27, 28). What was Jesus implying through this comparison? How is Myrtle’s apartment, and Tom and Myrtle’s affair, like a “whitewashed tomb”?

10. What books and magazines does Nick find at Myrtle’s apartment? What might the titles of these books and magazines suggest?

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11. Dramatic irony is when the reader sees a character’s mistakes which the character is unable to see himself. What is ironic about Myrtle’s negative attitudes toward the “lower classes”?

12. An author’s tone is the way he presents his subject matter to readers. Through his use of language, the author can influence the way readers view certain characters or events in a novel. Examine the tone with which Fitzgerald writes about George Wilson. How does he present George Wilson to the reader? Do you think Fitzgerald wishes for readers to sympathize with

George Wilson? Explain your answer with examples from the book.

Dig Deeper:
13. Read Matthew 6:25–34. What do these verses tell us about where our priorities should be in our careers, possessions, and relationships?

14. Three times during Chapter 2 Nick finds himself unable to leave the company of Tom and Myrtle. First, when the train stops on the way to New York, then in the taxicab on the way to the apartment, and finally during the party. How is Nick unable to leave in each case?


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The Great Gatsby Study Guide

15. How do these three attempts to leave show a progression toward Nick becoming a willing participant in the clandestine meeting?

16. Read 1 Corinthians 5. Do you think that by remaining with Tom and Myrtle throughout the chapter Nick is showing his approval of the affair? Explain your answer.

17. Using evidence from the novel, analyze the relationship between Tom and Myrtle. Why are Tom and Myrtle having an affair? What do you think they are hoping to gain from it? Do you think it has made them happier?

18. Near the end of Chapter 2, Nick comments to the reader, “I was within [the apartment] and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.” How does this statement compare with Paul’s statement in Romans 7:14–25. Have you ever found yourself being both “enchanted and repelled” by what you know is wrong? How did you deal with it? What is promised in Romans 8:1–11, 26–39 for those who struggle?

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The Great Gatsby Study Guide

Optional Exercises:
• Read and discuss excerpts from T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (1922).

• Draw a picture portraying the imagery of the ash heaps and Doctor T.J. Eckleburg.

• Search out scripture passages dealing with marriage and discuss the Biblical view of marriage. Some good starting points are Proverbs 5, Malachi 2:13–16, Ephesians 5:22–33, and Hebrews 13:4.


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The Great Gatsby Study Guide

Chapter 3
It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in your life. It faced—or seemed to face—the whole external world for an instance, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.

Explain the meaning of the underlined word in each sentence below based on how that word is used in the sentence. You may need to use a dictionary. 1. On buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors d’oeuvre, spiced baked hams crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold.

2. The bar is in full swing and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside until the air is alive with chatter and laughter and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names.



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3. Laughter is easier, minute by minute, spilled with prodigality, tipped out at a cheerful word.

4. A momentary hush; the orchestra leader varies his rhythm obligingly for her and there is a burst of chatter as the erroneous news goes around that she is Gilda Gray’s understudy from the “Follies.”



5. . . . wandered around rather ill at ease among swirls and eddies of people I didn’t know . . .

6. Instead of rambling this party had preserved a dignified homogeneity, and assumed to itself the function of representing the staid nobility of the countryside—East Egg condescending to West Egg, and carefully on guard against its spectroscopic gayety.





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7. I had expected that Mr. Gatsby would be a florid and corpulent person in his middle years.


8. The hall was at present occupied by two deplorably sober men and their highly indignant wives.

1. What rumors do people at the party tell about Gatsby?

2. Why do you think that the man with the “owl-eyed spectacles” is so surprised to find real books in Gatsby’s library?

3. What was the story involving a golf tournament that Nick had heard about Jordan? What does Nick say about Jordan’s honesty?

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4. In the fourth paragraph of Chapter 3, Fitzgerald abruptly changes his grammatical style, writes differently for three paragraphs, and then abruptly changes back to his previous style. Identify the change that takes place in these paragraphs. Give several examples that demonstrate this grammatical change.

5. Generally, a grammatical change like this is considered a mistake and poor writing, but Fitzgerald obviously did it on purpose and for a very specific effect. Why did Fitzgerald change his grammatical style?

6. The party sequence in Chapter 3 is really made up of a series of vignettes, short scenes, connected only by Nick’s wandering around the party. What mood does this give the chapter? Compare this to the scenes in the last page or two of the previous chapter. What connection might there be?

7. How have all the rumors and stories about him developed the character of Gatsby? Why do you think an author would keep his title character a mystery?


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8. A paradox is a statement that seems contradictory, but actually presents a truth. What might be the truth in Jordan’s paradox: “I like large parties. They’re so intimate”? How can large parties be intimate?

9. In the following passage, what might Fitzgerald be saying about the significance of the gathering and the lives of those there?

We were sitting at a table with a man of about my age and a

rowdy little girl who gave way upon the slightest provocation to uncontrollable laughter. I was enjoying myself now. I had taken two finger bowls of champagne and the scene had changed before my eyes into something significant, elemental and profound.

10. Nick says that the three parties central to the first three chapters of the novel were “merely casual events in a crowded summer,” and that they “absorbed me infinitely less than my personal affairs.” Nevertheless, what is suggested about the novel’s plot by focusing the action of the story on these parties? Why do you think Fitzgerald chose to structure the first three chapters in this way?

11. If no one seems to appreciate Gatsby for his parties and Gatsby doesn’t seem to know most of the people attending or participate much, why do you think he holds such huge, lavish gatherings?

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Dig Deeper:
12. Read Proverbs 10:18, 19 and Proverbs 23:29–35. What do these verses say about drunkenness and foolishness? How do the verses apply to the characters in the novel?

13. At the end of Chapter 3, Nick says, “Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.” What are “cardinal virtues”? What is ironic about Nick’s use of the word “suspects” when talking about virtue?

14. How does Nick’s statement about his rare honesty affect your opinion of him? Why do you feel this way?

For Discussion:
15. How does society generally view the party scene (such as that depicted in The Great Gatsby)? Does society depict it as an attractive lifestyle? If so, why do you think this lifestyle would be attractive to people? With what tone does the author write of the parties in The Great Gatsby? How does he communicate this tone?


© 1998 Progeny Press

The Great Gatsby Study Guide

Chapter 4
On Sunday morning while church bells rang in the villages along shore the world and its mistress returned to Gatsby’s house and twinkled hilariously on his lawn.

Choose the word that most closely defines the underlined word in each sentence below.
1. ___ This quality was continually breaking through his punctilious manner in the shape of restlessness.
a. traditional

b. conventional

c. uneasy

2. ___ “. . . and when the infantry came up at last they found the insignia of three German divisions among the piles of dead.”
a. sign

b. uniform

c. emblem

3. ___ Over the great bridge, . . . with the city rising up across the river in white heaps and sugar lumps all built with a wish out of non-olfactory money. a. dirty

b. unscented

c. new

4. ___ Gatsby took an arm of each of us . . . whereupon Mr. Wolfsheim swallowed a new sentence he was starting and lapsed into a somnambulatory abstraction. a. hypnotized

b. drowsed

c. sleep-walking

5. ___ “This is one of his sentimental days. He’s quite a character around New York—a denizen of Broadway.”
a. alien
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b. inhabitant

c. actor

The Great Gatsby Study Guide

1. List words and phrases used to describe Gatsby’s car. What do you think Gatsby’s car expresses about him?

2. Paraphrase Gatsby’s story about his life.

3. What parts of Gatsby’s story sound false to Nick? What does Gatsby show Nick that causes Nick to believe his story—at least in part?

4. List two things associating Meyer Wolfshiem with crime.

5. Summarize Jordan’s story about Gatsby and Daisy.

6. Why, according to Jordan, did Gatsby buy his particular house?


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7. After hearing Jordan’s story, Nick says that Gatsby “came alive to me, delivered suddenly from the womb of his purposeless splendor.” What does Nick recognize as the purpose for Gatsby’s fine mansion and all his parties?

8. What is suggested or implied when the author writes, “On Sunday morning while church bells rang in the villages along shore the world and its mistress returned to Gatsby’s house”?

9. About the names on the timetable, Nick says,
. . . I can still read the gray names, and they will give you a better impression than my generalities of those who accepted Gatsby’s hospitality and paid him the subtle tribute of knowing nothing whatever about him.

What is Nick saying, sarcastically, about those who attended Gatsby’s parties?

10. Look at the list of names on the timetable from the first few pages of Chapter 4. What impression of these people are you given? What about the list influences your impressions?

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11. Juxtaposition is the placing of two ideas side by side so that their closeness suggests a new meaning. For example, following the end of Chapter 1 (Gatsby reaching hopefully toward the green light) with descriptions of the “valley of ashes” at the beginning of Chapter 2 suggests that Gatsby’s dream is somehow connected to or will result in ruin.

What might Fitzgerald be suggesting by the juxtaposition of “Gatsby’s splendid car” being passed by “a dead man . . . in a hearse heaped with blooms”?

12. The dead man in the hearse is followed by “more cheerful carriages for friends,” and Nick says he is “glad that the sight of Gatsby’s splendid car was included in their somber holiday.” Do you see any symbolism or foreshadowing in this scene?

13. When Jordan tells Nick the story of Daisy and Gatsby, Nick relates that Jordan was “sitting up very straight on a straight chair.” Considering that Jordan is earlier characterized by phrases like “lying on the sofa,” “languid,” “sauntering” what might this suggest about the validity of her story?

14. Compare Gatsby’s story about himself with Jordan’s story. How well do they fit together? Describe elements of the stories that do or do not fit well.


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15. Given the very romantic stories Gatsby and Jordan tell, and the implied incongruities between them, what does the juxtaposition of the scene with Meyer Wolfshiem imply about Gatsby? How does this scene make you feel about Wolfshiem?

16. How does Nick’s view of Gatsby change over the course of Chapter 4? How has your view of Gatsby been affected or changed by this chapter?

Dig Deeper:
17. Read Ecclesiastes 4:9–12; Acts 2:44–47; Romans 15:1, 2; and 1 Corinthians 13:4–7. According to these verses, what is the purpose of fellowship and friendship? What characteristics of a true friend are listed in these verses? Who in the novel, if anyone, exhibits these characteristics?

18. Read Proverbs 6:16–19; Proverbs 14: 7–9; 1 Corinthians 15:33, 34; and 2 Peter 2:17–19. How do many of the people we’ve met so far in the novel compare to these verses?

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The Great Gatsby Study Guide

19. Think about your friends and acquaintances. Are they more like those described in the first group of verses above, or the second? Do they try to build each other up, or do they more often lie and cause dissension? Why do you think someone would choose to associate with a group like Gatsby’s instead of one that fits the first set of verses?


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The Great Gatsby Study Guide

Chapter 5
There must have been some moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams—not through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. . . . No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.

Explain the meaning of the underlined word in each sentence below based on how that word is used in the sentence. You may need to use a dictionary. 1. Two o’clock and the whole corner of the peninsula was blazing with light which fell unreal on the shrubbery and made thin elongating glints upon the roadside wires.

2. At first I thought it was another party, a wild rout that had resolved itself into “hide-and-go-seek” or “sardines-in-the-box” with all the house thrown open to the game.

3. . . . the sound of a motor turning into my lane. We both jumped up and, a little harrowed myself, I went into the yard.

4. His head leaned back so far that it rested against the face of a defunct mantelpiece clock . . .

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5. They were sitting at either end of the couch looking at each other as if
some question had been asked or was in the air, and every vestige of embarrassment was gone.

1. How and why does Gatsby offer to “help” Nick? Why does Nick say that “under different circumstances that conversation might have been one of the crises of my life”?

2. What weaknesses regarding Gatsby’s story about his life are suggested in this chapter?

3. How does Daisy act when she meets Gatsby at Nick’s house? How does Gatsby act?

4. How does Daisy act at Gatsby’s mansion?


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5. How, according to Nick, does Gatsby revalue “everything in his house.”

6. What three “states” does Gatsby goes through while he is with Daisy?

7. What is the history behind Gatsby’s mansion and its former owners? What might be symbolic about Gatsby purchasing a house with a black wreath on its door?

8. Read the passages below.
Sometimes, too, he stared around his possessions in a dazed way as though in her actual and astonishing presence none of it was any longer real.

Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one.

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How have Gatsby’s possessions—all that he has built in order to attain his dream—been changed by the reentry of Daisy into his life?

9. When Gatsby takes Daisy on a tour of the many rooms of his mansion, why do you think Fitzgerald ended the tour in Gatsby’s personal living quarters?

10. Read the following passage:
He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them one by one before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel . . . . the soft rich heap mounted higher—shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple green and lavender and faint orange with monograms of Indian blue.

As the final event of the “tour,” what do you think this display of his shirts says about Gatsby?

11. Nick says “there must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of [Gatsby’s] dreams—not through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion.” What is Nick saying about Gatsby’s dreams in this passage?


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The Great Gatsby Study Guide

12. Do you think Nick’s admiration for Gatsby has grown stronger or weaker in this chapter? Explain your answer.

Dig Deeper:
13. In this chapter, Fitzgerald implies that one’s dreams are often bigger than can be reasonably, or even possibly fulfilled. Do you agree or disagree? Explain your answer.

14. Read Psalm 37: 4–11; Matthew 6:24–34; and Ephesians 3:17–21. What do these verses have to say about the pursuing of one’s dreams?

15. For what purpose did Gatsby ask Nick to invite Daisy to Nick’s house? Why did Nick invite Daisy? How does this act square with Nick’s earlier assertion that he is “one of the few honest people that I have ever known”?

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The Great Gatsby Study Guide

Optional Exercises:
• Define “success.” Write a brief essay explaining how success or the desire for success influences and applies to your daily life. Discuss how and when you will know if you have lived a successful life.

• In Chapter 5, Nick says he stared at Gatsby’s house “like Kant at his church steeple.” To help understand this allusion, research information regarding Immanuel Kant. Write a one-page essay summarizing Kant’s philosophies and discussing how they might differ from the modernism depicted in The Great Gatsby.


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The Great Gatsby Study Guide

Chapter 6
The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God—a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that—and he must be about His Father’s Business, the service of a vast, vulgar and meretricious beauty.

Explain the meaning of the underlined word in each sentence below based on how that word is used in the sentence. You may need to use a dictionary. 1. He had changed [his name] at the age of seventeen . . . when he saw Dan Cody’s yacht drop anchor over the most insidious flat on Lake Superior.

2. The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself.

3. He knew women early, and since they spoiled him he became contemptuous of them . . .

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4. A universe of ineffable gaudiness spun itself out in his brain while the clock ticked on the wash-stand and the moon soaked with wet light his tangled clothes upon the floor.
5. Each night he added to the pattern of his fancies until drowsiness closed
down upon some vivid scene with an oblivious embrace.

6. For a while these reveries provided an outlet for his imagination . . .

7. The none too savory ramifications by which Ella Kaye, the newspaper woman, played Madame de Maintenon to his weakness . . .
8. . . . for Dan Cody sober knew what lavish doings Dan Cody drunk might soon be about and he provided for such contingencies by reposing more and more trust in Gatsby.


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9. I remember the portrait of him up in Gatsby’s bedroom, a grey, florid man with a hard empty face—the pioneer debauchee, who during one phase of American life brought back to the eastern seaboard the savage violence of the frontier brothel and saloon.

10. [Gatsby] was left with his singularly appropriate education; the vague contour of Jay Gatsby had filled out to the substantiality of man.

1. Summarize the story of James Gatz.

2. Who was Dan Cody?

3. What does Gatsby want Daisy to do? What would this accomplish? How realistic, or fair, do you think it is for Gatsby to require this?

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4. How does Gatsby respond when Nick tells him “You can’t repeat the past”?

5. Read the passage and answer the questions.
His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people—his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all. The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God—a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that—and he must be about His Father’s Business, the service of a vast, vulgar and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen year old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end.

What does Nick mean by Gatsby’s “Platonic conception” of himself, and by calling Gatsby “a son of God”? What does the last sentence imply about Gatsby’s maturity as an adult?

6. Does learning the truth about Gatsby’s childhood change your impression of him? Explain your answer.


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7. What is ironic about Gatsby inheriting his “education” from Cody?

8. What is significant about the placement of Gatsby’s true story in Chapter 6, directly following his attaining Daisy in Chapter 5? Why do you think Fitzgerald waited to tell readers this story until after Gatsby reunited with Daisy?

9. What is ironic about Tom’s statement that “women run around too much these days.” What does this statement reveal about Tom’s character?

10. Nick tells us that, five years earlier, Gatsby knew if he kissed Daisy, “and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God.” Why do you think Fitzgerald used this particular imagery? What does the idea of “never romping again like the mind of God” remind you of ?

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Dig Deeper:
11. A number of the characters in The Great Gatsby seem to believe they are better than other people or for some reason deserve to be privileged. In this chapter we find that Gatsby has imagined himself to be better than his parents, and, in fact, almost perfect.

Read Deuteronomy 8:17–19; Romans 12:3; 1 Corinthians 4:6, 7; and Philippians 2:3, 4. Where do these verses say our worth and wealth come from? What do they say about how we should view ourselves?

12. What does it mean to be naive? Is Gatsby naive? As Christians, what things, if anything, do you think we should be naive about? How do Romans 16:17–19 and 1 Corinthians 14:20 relate to this question?

13. How is Gatsby trying to “repeat the past”? Do you think it’s possible to repeat the past? Why or why not?

14. Read Isaiah 43:18, 19 and Philippians 3:7–14. What do these verses suggest about living in the past?


© 1998 Progeny Press

The Great Gatsby Study Guide

Chapter 7
But with every word she was drawing further and further into herself, so he gave that up and only the dead dream fought on as the afternoon slipped away, trying to touch what was no longer tangible, struggling unhappily, undespairingly, toward that lost voice across the room.

Explain the meaning of the underlined word in each sentence below based on how that word is used in the sentence. You may need to use a dictionary. 1. “I wanted somebody who wouldn’t gossip. Daisy comes over quite often—in the afternoons.”

So the whole caravansary had fallen in like a card house at the disapproval in her eyes.

2. He was calling up at Daisy’s request—would I come to lunch at her house tomorrow? . . . . And yet I couldn’t believe that they would choose this occasion for a scene—especially for the rather harrowing scene that Gatsby had outlined in the garden.

3. Jordan and Tom and I got into the front seat of Gatsby’s car, Tom pushed the unfamiliar gears tentatively and we shot off into the oppressive heat leaving them out of sight behind.

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4. He paused. The immediate contingency overtook him, pulled him back from the edge of the theoretical abyss.

5. Angry as I was, as we all were, I was tempted to laugh whenever he opened his mouth. The transition from libertine to prig was so complete. libertine:
6. “She does [love me], though. The trouble is that sometimes she gets foolish ideas in her head and doesn’t know what she’s doing.” He nodded sagely.

7. I was thirty. Before me stretched the portentous menacing road of a new decade.

8. As we passed over the dark bridge her wan face fell lazily against my coat’s shoulder and the formidable stroke of thirty died away with the reassuring pressure of her hand. wan:
9. The circle closed up again with a running murmur of expostulation; it was a minute before I could see anything at all.

10. Only the Negro and I were near enough to hear what [Tom] said but the policeman caught something in the tone and looked over with truculent eyes.


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1. Who is Pammy? How does Gatsby react when he sees her? How does her existence complicate Gatsby’s dream?

2. How does Tom suddenly come to realize that Daisy loves Gatsby? How does he react?

3. What important discovery does Wilson make in this chapter? How does he react?

4. What things has Tom discovered about Gatsby’s business dealings?

5. Why was Myrtle running towards Gatsby’s car? Who was driving the car that hit Myrtle Wilson? Who does Tom think was driving?

6. How does the accident seem to affect Jordan?

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7. What has changed about Gatsby’s house? What might this change symbolize or foreshadow?

8. What does the author mean when he writes that Tom looked at Daisy “as if he had just recognized her as someone he knew a long time ago.”

9. Why do you think Fitzgerald refers to Daisy as “the golden girl”? What does Gatsby say Daisy’s voice is “full of ”? What does this comparison suggest about what really attracts men to her?

10. How has Gatsby’s dream died in this chapter? How has everyone else suffered loss in this chapter?

11. After the confrontational scene in the hotel room, why do you think Fitzgerald has Nick report that he has turned thirty that day? What is ironic about Nick turning thirty in this particular chapter?


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12. In this chapter, Gatsby’s car is described as the “death car.” If his car symbolizes materialism, how does this add meaning to that symbolism? Identify other “deaths” found in Chapter 7.

13. Why is Nick disgusted with Jordan in the end of the chapter? What has she done or said that irritates him?

14. Chapter 7 parallels Chapter 1 in many ways. One example is the initial setting at the Buchanans’; a second example is the heat. Identify at least three other similarities. What might be Fitzgerald’s purpose for this parallelism?

15. How are Tom Buchanan and George Wilson alike? What might Fitzgerald be suggesting through these similarities?

16. How how does Fitzgerald draw comparisons between Tom and Gatsby? What might he be suggesting through these similarities?

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17. Compare and contrast the following two images. Identify where each occurs in the story and discuss the meaning behind the similarities and differences. He put his hands in his coat pockets and turned back eagerly to his scrutiny of the house, as though my presence marred the sacredness of the vigil. So I walked away and left him standing there in the moonlight—watching over nothing.

But I didn’t call to him, for he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone—he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward— and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and faraway, that might have been the end of a dock.


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Chapter 8
No telephone message arrived . . . . I have an idea that Gatsby himself didn’t believe it would come and perhaps he no longer cared. If that was true he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream.

1. Summarize Gatsby’s story about his early romance with Daisy. What other story did Gatsby tell Nick during this night?

2. By the end of the chapter, what has happened to both Gatsby and Wilson?

3. Gothic imagery creates a picture of darkness, gloomy castles, mazes, mystery, nightmares and death. Identify the Gothic imagery found in the first few paragraphs of Chapter 8. Why do you think Fitzgerald uses Gothic imagery to describe Gatsby’s mansion?

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4. The author writes that Gatsby had committed himself to “the following of a grail.” What is the author suggesting about Gatsby’s quest through the use of this image?

5. The last thing Nick said to Gatsby was, “They’re a rotten crowd. You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.” Why do you think he said this when he admits that he disapproved of Gatsby “from beginning to end”?

6. Read the following passage:
Wilson’s glazed eyes turned out to the ashheaps, where small grey clouds took on fantastic shape and scurried here and there in the faint dawn wind.

“I spoke to her,” he muttered, after a long silence. “I told her she might fool me but she couldn’t fool God. I took her to the window—” With an effort he got up and walked to the rear window and leaned with his face pressed against it, “—and I said ‘God knows what you’ve been doing, everything you’ve been doing. You may fool me but you can’t fool God!’”

Standing behind him Michaelis saw with a shock that he
was looking at the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg, which had just emerged, pale and enormous from the dissolving night.
“God sees everything,” repeated Wilson.
“That’s an advertisement,” Michaelis assured him.
What do you think Fitzgerald is saying about God in this passage?


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7. At the end of the chapter, Nick says Gatsby “must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream.” What was this price? What do you think Fitzgerald is saying about holding on to a single dream?

8. Do you think Gatsby believed in his dream to the end? Give examples from the chapter to support your answer.

9. The last line of Chapter 8 says “the holocaust was complete.” Define the word holocaust. Why do you think the author uses the term “holocaust” at this point? (Remember that this novel was written prior to World War II.) How does the use of the term “holocaust” relate to the earlier idea that Gatsby was “a son of God”?

Dig Deeper:
10. Read Romans 5:1–5, Hebrews 11:7–40, and 1 Peter 1:3–9. What do these passages suggest as an appropriate goal in life? According to these verses, what is the likely price of this pursuit? Do you think this price is too high? Explain your answer.

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11. The author writes that “Wilson had no friend: there was not even enough of him for his wife.” Nevertheless, how does Michaelis demonstrate friendship toward George Wilson? How does this compare with the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29–37)?

12. Read 1 Corinthians 3, 4. List some ways you can comfort someone who is going through a difficult time of trial or sorrow.

13. In Mark 8:36, Jesus says “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” How does Gatsby’s life reflect the truth in this statement?


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Chapter 9
. . . as I sat there brooding on the old unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

1. What is concluded about Wilson’s motive for killing Gatsby?

2. What happened in the “missing hours” of George Wilson’s journey to Gatsby’s house?

3. Why wasn’t Nick able to contact the Buchanans about Gatsby’s death?

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4. According to Nick, how were he, Tom, Daisy, Jordan, and Gatsby all alike?

5. While searching for people to come to the funeral, Nick addresses Gatsby: “I’ll get somebody for you, Gatsby. Don’t worry. Just trust me and I’ll get somebody for you—”
Later, Nick imagines Gatsby pleading with him, “Look here, old sport, you’ve got to get somebody for me. You’ve got to try hard. I can’t go through this alone.”
What do these passages indicate about Gatsby’s character, and the character of Gatsby’s associates.

6. Why do you think Henry Gatz took such great pride in his son?

7. Nick comments that the worn photo of Gatsby’s house “seemed more real to [Mr. Gatz] now than the house itself.” Compare this statement with Nick’s comment about “the colossal vitality of [Gatsby’s] illusion” near the end of Chapter 5 and the passage about Gatsby’s “Platonic conception” of himself at the beginning of Chapter 6. What do these things tell us about the extent to which Gatsby and his father are able to dream and how they view reality?


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8. Mr. Gatz produces a list of Gatsby’s resolves from his boyhood. “It just shows you, don’t it?” Gatz tells Nick. What does this list “show” about Gatsby?

9. What does the idea that Wolfshiem, a Jew, working in an office labeled “The Swastika Holding Company,” and whistling “the Rosary” suggest about his character? (Keep in mind that this novel was written and published prior to World War II and the Jewish Holocaust. However, by the novel’s publication in 1925, the German Nazi Party was gaining influence with its ideas of racial superiority, anti-Semitism, and German strength.)

10. Why might it be significant that “Owl-eyes” was the only person from all of Gatsby’s many parties to attend the funeral?

11. What might be symbolized by Nick’s fantastic dream:
. . . a night scene by El Greco: a hundred houses, at once conventional and grotesque, crouching under a sullen, overhanging sky and a lustreless moon. In the foreground four solemn men in dress suits are walking along the sidewalk with a stretcher on which lies a drunken woman in a white evening dress. Her hand, which dangles over the side, sparkles cold with jewels. Gravely the men turn in at a house—the wrong house. But no one knows the woman’s name, and no one cares.

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12. Jordan tells Nick:
“You said a bad driver was only safe until she met another bad driver? Well, I met another bad driver, didn’t I? I mean it was careless of me to make such a wrong guess. I thought you were an honest, straightforward person. I thought it was your secret pride.” How, according to Jordan, was Nick a “bad driver,” and, in essence, dishonest? Consider their conversation outside the Buchanans’ house after Myrtle’s death (near the end of Chapter 7) and their telephone conversation the next day (middle of Chapter 8). What does Jordan seem to be asking of Nick in these two scenes that might reveal Nick to be
dishonest in some way?

13. What does Nick mean when he says that Tom and Daisy were “careless”?

14. Look at the last four paragraphs of the novel. What dream do you think Nick is talking about? What is Nick saying about the ability to achieve one’s dreams?


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Dig Deeper:
15. What are your dreams for your life? Make a brief list of some of them. Consider the spiritual, physical, relational, educational, vocational, and financial areas of your life. Be specific and reasonable. Then, for each dream or goal, write a sentence explaining how you hope to attain it.

16. Nick suggests at the end of the novel that it may be impossible to achieve our dreams. What types of dreams might be difficult or impossible to attain? What interferes with reaching your dreams?

17. Read Romans 5:1–5, 1 Timothy 6:17–19, and Hebrews 10:23, 11:1. What is the “hope” described in these verses? Why should we have this hope? How is the hope described in these verses different from worldly hopes and dreams?

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The Great Gatsby Study Guide

1. Explain the significance of the book’s title: The Great Gatsby. Was Gatsby “great”? If so, how? If not, what does the title mean?

2. Conflict is the struggle between opposing forces that acts as the basis of the plot in most literature. Conflict can take five forms:
• Man vs. Man: characters struggle against each other
• Man vs. Nature: characters struggle against the natural world • Man vs. God (or Fate): characters struggle against the supernatural or destiny
• Man vs. Society: characters struggle against the laws or constrictions of their social environments
• Man vs. Himself: characters undergo an internal struggle between their opposing tendencies (temptations to do wrong, for example) Rarely is only one conflict evident in a work of literature. Considering these five forms, how would you characterize the conflict(s) Nick faces in the novel?


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3. How would you characterize Gatsby’s conflict(s)?

4. Within the first few pages of the novel, what problem or question is presented to readers that drives the story forward?

5. The climax of a novel is the turning point of the action. It is the point of the story where interest and intensity peak. Where is the climax in this novel?

6. The resolution of a novel follows the climax. In the resolution plot complications are drawn to a close, problems are usually resolved, and
questions are generally answered. What is resolved in the resolution of The Great Gatsby?

7. In Chapter 1, Nick tells us that after his experiences out East, he “wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart.” Discuss what “glimpses” Nick experienced. What, if anything, did Nick discover about the human heart?

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8. 1 Timothy 6:10 says that the “love” of money is the root of all evil. Do you think any of the characters “love” money? If not, what do you think that they do love? In addition, do you think that Fitzgerald agrees with the idea that the love of money is the root of all evil? Why or why not? What things do you think Fitzgerald sees as evil?

9. Has Nick changed or grown in this novel? Explain your answer.

10. How does Gatsby differ from the rest of the characters in the novel, particularly the other “Westerners”?

11. In literature, a character’s tragic flaw is a defect of character that ultimately brings about his downfall. (Recall Nick’s statement that he and the other “Westerners” possessed some “deficiency” which made them “unadaptable to Eastern life.”) Slightly different from the tragic flaw is a character’s hamartia. Hamartia, the Greek word for error or failure, refers to a person’s fatal mistake or false step that leads him to ruin.

Was Gatsby’s tragic end caused by a fatal mistake—or hamartia—or did he have some tragic flaw that caused him to meet his end? Explain your answer with
examples from the novel.


© 1998 Progeny Press

The Great Gatsby Study Guide

12. Who do you think the novel is about: Nick Carraway or Jay Gatsby? Explain.

13. In the context of the novel. what might each of the following characters or things symbolize? Explain each response.
a. The green light at the end of Daisy’s dock

b. The eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg

c. Jay Gatsby

d. Gatsby’s possessions (particularly his car, his house, or his shirts)

14. The theme of a story is the main idea or message communicated by a story. Themes often reflect an author’s perceptions of life or the human condition. What theme (or themes) do you see present in The Great Gatsby? Give examples to show how that theme is communicated through the story.

© 1998 Progeny Press


The Great Gatsby Study Guide

Select any two of the following topics and write a one- to two-page essay
discussing each subject.
1. Some analyses of The Great Gatsby view it as a novel about the pursuit of the American Dream. If it is, what does Fitzgerald conclude about the American Dream in this novel? Use examples from the text to back up your conclusions. 2. Many people believe the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg represent God or the eyes of God. If this is so, what do you think Fitzgerald is saying about God and His relationship to the characters of the novel?

3. The Great Gatsby is full of descriptive passages that make use of color. Examine Fitzgerald’s use of color as he associates it with one of the characters or one of the scenes (for example, Daisy as the “golden girl,” or the long “white cake” of apartment houses). How does he use color to affect your impressions, or to create subtle associations.

4. Read 2 Timothy 3:1–9 and Isaiah 5:11–17. Compare these verses with the characters and events in The Great Gatsby. Why do you think God speaks so harshly in these verses? Why are these things displeasing to God?

5. Have any of the characters in The Great Gatsby changed for the better by the end of the novel? Discuss why you believe the characters have or have not learned and benefitted or grown from their experiences.

6. Trace your reactions and feelings about one or two of the following characters through the novel. Discuss points in the story that illustrate or change your impressions of the characters.
Nick Carraway
Jay Gatsby

Jordan Baker
Tom Baker


George Wilson
Meyer Wolfshiem

© 1998 Progeny Press

The Great Gatsby Study Guide

Essay Topics:

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