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The Great Gatsby (Synopsis)

The following synopsis is from the Cliffs Notes web site for The Great Gatsby.

The Great Gatsby is a story told by Nick Carraway, who was once Gatsby's neighbor, and he tells the story sometime after 1922, when the incidents that fill the book take place. As the story opens, Nick has just moved from the Midwest to West Egg, Long Island, seeking his fortune as a bond salesman. Shortly after his arrival, Nick travels across the Sound to the more fashionable East Egg to visit his cousin Daisy Buchanan and her husband, Tom, a hulking, imposing man whom Nick had known in college. There he meets professional golfer Jordan Baker. The Buchanans and Jordan Baker live privileged lives, contrasting sharply in sensibility and luxury with Nick's more modest and grounded lifestyle. When Nick returns home that evening, he notices his neighbor, Gatsby, mysteriously standing in the dark and stretching his arms toward the water, and a solitary green light across the Sound.

One day, Nick is invited to accompany Tom, a blatant adulterer, to meet his mistress, Myrtle Wilson, a middle-class woman whose husband runs a modest garage and gas station in the valley of ashes, a desolate and run-down section of town that marks the convergence of the city and the suburbs. After the group meets and journeys into the city, Myrtle phones friends to come over and they all spend the afternoon drinking at Myrtle and Tom's apartment. The afternoon is filled with drunken behavior and ends ominously with Myrtle and Tom fighting over Daisy, his wife. Drunkenness turns to rage and Tom, in one deft movement, breaks Myrtle's nose.

Following the description of this incident, Nick turns his attention to his mysterious neighbor, who hosts weekly parties for the rich and fashionable. Upon Gatsby's invitation (which is noteworthy because rarely is anyone ever invited to Gatsby's parties — they just show up, knowing they will not be turned away), Nick attends one of the extravagant gatherings. There, he bumps into Jordan Baker, as well as Gatsby himself. Gatsby, it turns out, is a gracious host, but yet remains apart from his guest — an observer more than a participant — as if he is seeking something. As the party winds down, Gatsby takes Jordan aside to speak privately. Although the reader isn't specifically told what they discuss, Jordan is greatly amazed by what she's learned.

As the summer unfolds, Gatsby and Nick become friends and Jordan and Nick begin to see each other on a regular basis, despite Nick's conviction that she is notoriously dishonest (which offends his sensibilities because he is "one of the few honest people" he has ever met). Nick and Gatsby journey into the city one day and there Nick meets Meyer Wolfshiem, one of Gatsby's associates and Gatsby's link to organized crime. On that same day, while having tea with Jordan Baker, Nick learns the amazing story that Gatsby told her the night of his party. Gatsby, it appears, is in love with Daisy Buchanan. They met years earlier when he was in the army but could not be together because he did not yet have the means to support her. In the intervening years, Gatsby made his fortune, all with the goal of winning Daisy back. He bought his house so that he would be across the Sound from her and hosted the elaborate parties in the hopes that she would notice. It has come time for Gatsby to meet Daisy again, face-to-face, and so, through the intermediary of Jordan Baker, Gatsby asks Nick to invite Daisy to his little house where Gatsby will show up unannounced.

The day of the meeting arrives. Nick's house is perfectly prepared, due largely to the generosity of the hopeless romantic Gatsby, who wants every detail to be perfect for his reunion with his lost love. When the former lovers meet, their reunion is slightly nervous, but shortly, the two are once again comfortable with each other, leaving Nick to feel an outsider in the warmth the two people radiate. As the afternoon progresses, the three move the party from Nick's house to Gatsby's, where he takes special delight in showing Daisy his meticulously decorated house and his impressive array of belongings, as if demonstrating in a very tangible way just how far out of poverty he has traveled.

At this point, Nick again lapses into memory, relating the story of Jay Gatsby. Born James Gatz to "shiftless and unsuccessful farm people," Gatsby changed his name at seventeen, about the same time he met Dan Cody. Cody would become Gatsby's mentor, taking him on in "a vague personal capacity" for five years as he went three times around the Continent. By the time of Cody's death, Gatsby had grown into manhood and had defined the man he would become. Never again would he acknowledge his meager past; from that point on, armed with a fabricated family history, he was Jay Gatsby, entrepreneur.

Moving back to the present, we discover that Daisy and Tom will attend one of Gatsby's parties. Tom, of course, spends his time chasing women, while Daisy and Gatsby sneak over to Nick's yard for a moment's privacy while Nick, accomplice in the affair, keeps guard. After the Buchanans leave, Gatsby tells Nick of his secret desire: to recapture the past. Gatsby, the idealistic dreamer, firmly believes the past can be recaptured in its entirety. Gatsby then goes on to tell what it is about his past with Daisy that has made such an impact on him.

As the summer unfolds, Gatsby and Daisy's affair begins to grow and they see each other regularly. On one fateful day, the hottest and most unbearable of the summer, Gatsby and Nick journey to East Egg to have lunch with the Buchanans and Jordan Baker. Oppressed by the heat, Daisy suggests they take solace in a trip to the city. No longer hiding her love for Gatsby, Daisy pays him special attention and Tom deftly picks up on what's going on. As the party prepares to leave for the city, Tom fetches a bottle of whiskey. Tom, Nick, and Jordan drive in Gatsby's car, while Gatsby and Daisy drive Tom's coupe. Low on gas, Tom stops Gatsby's car at Wilson's gas station, where he sees that Wilson is not well. Like Tom, who has just learned of Daisy's affair, Wilson has just learned of Myrtle's secret life — although he does not know who the man is — and it has made him physically sick. Wilson announces his plans to take Myrtle out West, much to Tom's dismay. Tom has lost a wife and a mistress all in a matter of an hour. Absorbed in his own fears, Tom hastily drives into the city.

The group ends up at the Plaza hotel, where they continue drinking, moving the day closer and closer to its tragic end. Tom, always a hot-head, begins to badger Gatsby, questioning him as to his intentions with Daisy. Decidedly tactless and confrontational, Tom keeps harping on Gatsby until the truth comes out: Gatsby wants Daisy to admit she's never loved Tom but that, instead, she has always loved him. When Daisy is unable to do this, Gatsby declares that Daisy is going to leave Tom. Tom, though, understands Daisy far better than Gatsby does and knows she won't leave him: His wealth and power, matured through generations of privilege, will triumph over Gatsby's newly found wealth. In a gesture of authority, Tom orders Daisy and Gatsby to head home in Gatsby's car. Tom, Nick, and Jordan follow.

As Tom's car nears Wilson's garage, they can all see that some sort of accident has occurred. Pulling over to investigate, they learn that Myrtle Wilson, Tom's mistress, has been hit and killed by a passing car that never bothered to stop, and it appears to have been Gatsby's car. Tom, Jordan, and Nick continue home to East Egg. Nick, now disgusted by the morality and behavior of the people with whom he has been on friendly terms, meets Gatsby outside of the Buchanans' house where he is keeping watch for Daisy. With a few well-chosen questions, Nick learns that Daisy, not Gatsby, was driving the car, although Gatsby confesses he will take all the blame. Nick, greatly agitated by all that he has experienced during the day, continues home, but an overarching feeling of dread haunts him.

Nearing dawn the next morning, Nick goes to Gatsby's house. While the two men turn the house upside down looking for cigarettes, Gatsby tells Nick more about how he became the man he is and how Daisy figured into his life. Later that morning, while at work, Nick is unable to concentrate. He receives a phone call from Jordan Baker, but is quick to end the discussion — and thereby the friendship. He plans to take an early train home and check on Gatsby.

The action then switches back to Wilson who, distraught over his wife's death, sneaks out and goes looking for the driver who killed Myrtle. Nick retraces Wilson's journey, which placed him, by early afternoon, at Gatsby's house. Wilson murders Gatsby and then turns the gun on himself.

After Gatsby's death, Nick is left to help make arrangements for his burial. What is most perplexing, though, is that no one seems overly concerned with Gatsby's death. Daisy and Tom mysteriously leave on a trip and all the people who so eagerly attended his parties, drinking his liquor and eating his food, refuse to become involved. Even Meyer Wolfshiem, Gatsby's business partner, refuses to publicly mourn his friend's death. A telegram from Henry C. Gatz, Gatsby's father, indicates he will be coming from Minnesota to bury his son. Gatsby's funeral boasts only Nick, Henry Gatz, a few servants, the postman, and the minister at the graveside. Despite all his popularity during his lifetime, in his death, Gatsby is completely forgotten.

Nick, completely disillusioned with what he has experienced in the East, prepares to head back to the Midwest. Before leaving, he sees Tom Buchanan one last time. When Tom notices him and questions him as to why he didn't want to shake hands, Nick curtly offers "You know what I think of you." Their discussion reveals that Tom was the impetus behind Gatsby's death. When Wilson came to his house, he told Wilson that Gatsby owned the car that killed Myrtle. In Tom's mind, he had helped justice along. Nick, disgusted by the carelessness and cruel nature of Tom, Daisy, and those like them, leaves Tom, proud of his own integrity.

On the last night before leaving, Nick goes to Gatsby's mansion, then to the shore where Gatsby once stood, arms outstretched toward the green light. The novel ends prophetically, with Nick noting how we are all a little like Gatsby, boats moving up a river, going forward but continually feeling the pull of the past.


Fitzgerald, F Scott. “The Great Gatsby.” The Great Gatsby: Book Summary | CliffsNotes, Cliffs Notes, www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/g/the-great-gatsby/book-summary.




About F. Scott Fitzgerald

The following biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald is taken from the Biography.com web site.

American short-story writer and novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald is known for his turbulent personal life and his famous novel The Great Gatsby.

Who Was F. Scott Fitzgerald?

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (known as F. Scott Fitzgerald) was a short story writer and novelist considered one of the pre-eminent authors in the history of American literature due almost entirely to the enormous posthumous success of his third book, The Great Gatsby. Perhaps the quintessential American novel, as well as a definitive social history of the Jazz Age, The Great Gatsby has become required reading for virtually every American high school student and has had a transportive effect on generation after generation of readers. At the age of 24, the success of his first novel, This Side of Paradise, made Fitzgerald famous. One week later, he married the woman he loved and his muse, Zelda Sayre. However by the end of the 1920s Fitzgerald descended into drinking, and Zelda had a mental breakdown. Following the unsuccessful Tender Is the Night, Fitzgerald moved to Hollywood and became a scriptwriter. He died of a heart attack in 1940, at age 44, his final novel only half completed.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Books

'This Side of Paradise' (1920)
This Side of Paradise is a largely autobiographical story about love and greed. The story was centered on Amory Blaine, an ambitious Midwesterner who falls in love with, but is ultimately rejected by, two girls from high-class families.

The novel was published in 1920 to glowing reviews. Almost overnight, it turned Fitzgerald, at the age of 24, into one of the country's most promising young writers. He eagerly embraced his newly minted celebrity status and embarked on an extravagant lifestyle that earned him a reputation as a playboy and hindered his reputation as a serious literary writer.

'The Beautiful and Damned' (1922)
In 1922, Fitzgerald published his second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, the story of the troubled marriage of Anthony and Gloria Patch. The Beautiful and Damned helped to cement Fitzgerald’s status as one of the great chroniclers and satirists of the culture of wealth, extravagance and ambition that emerged during the affluent 1920s — what became known as the Jazz Age. "It was an age of miracles," Fitzgerald wrote, "it was an age of art, it was an age of excess, and it was an age of satire."

'The Great Gatsby' (1925)
The Great Gatsby is considered Fitzgerald's finest work, with its beautiful lyricism, pitch-perfect portrayal of the Jazz Age, and searching critiques of materialism, love and the American Dream. Seeking a change of scenery to spark his creativity, in 1924 Fitzgerald had moved to Valescure, France, to write. Published in 1925, The Great Gatsby is narrated by Nick Carraway, a Midwesterner who moves into the town of West Egg on Long Island, next door to a mansion owned by the wealthy and mysterious Jay Gatsby. The novel follows Nick and Gatsby's strange friendship and Gatsby's pursuit of a married woman named Daisy, ultimately leading to his exposure as a bootlegger and his death.

Although The Great Gatsby was well-received when it was published, it was not until the 1950s and '60s, long after Fitzgerald's death, that it achieved its stature as the definitive portrait of the "Roaring Twenties," as well as one of the greatest American novels ever written.

"Tender Is the Night' (1934)
In 1934, after years of toil, Fitzgerald finally published his fourth novel, Tender is the Night, about an American psychiatrist in Paris, France, and his troubled marriage to a wealthy patient. The book was inspired by his wife Zelda’s struggle with mental illness. Although Tender is the Night was a commercial failure and was initially poorly received due to its chronologically jumbled structure, it has since gained in reputation and is now considered among the great American novels.

'The Love of the Last Tycoon' (unfinished)
Fitzgerald began work on his last novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, in 1939. He had completed over half the manuscript when he died in 1940.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Short Stories

Beginning in 1920 and continuing throughout the rest of his career, Fitzgerald supported himself financially by writing great numbers of short stories for popular publications such as The Saturday Evening Post and Esquire. Some of his most notable stories include "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Camel's Back" and "The Last of the Belles."

Fitzgerald’s Wife Zelda

F. Scott Fitzgerald married Zelda Sayre on April 3, 1920, in New York City. Zelda was Fitzgerald’s muse, and her likeness is prominently featured in his works including This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and the Damned, The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night. Fitzgerald met 18-year-old Zelda, the daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court judge, during his time in the infantry. One week after the publication of Fitzgerald’s first novel, This Side of Paradise, the couple married. They had one child, a daughter named Frances “Scottie” Fitzgerald, born in 1921.

Beginning in the late 1920s, Zelda suffered from mental health issues, and the couple moved back and forth between Delaware and France. In 1930, Zelda suffered a breakdown. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia and treated at the Sheppard Pratt Hospital in Towson, Maryland. That same year was admitted to a mental health clinic in Switzerland. Two years later she was treated at the Phipps Psychiatric Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. She spent the remaining years before her death in 1948 in and out of various mental health clinics.

When and Where was F. Scott Fitzgerald Born?

Francis Scott Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Fitzgerald’s namesake (and second cousin three times removed on his father's side) was Francis Scott Key, who wrote the lyrics to the "Star-Spangled Banner."

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Death

F. Scott Fitzgerald died of a heart attack on December 21, 1940, at the age of 44, in Hollywood, California. Fitzgerald died believing himself a failure, since none of his works received more than modest commercial or critical success during his lifetime.

Family, Education and Early Life

F. Scott Fitzgerald's mother, Mary McQuillan, was from an Irish-Catholic family that made a small fortune in Minnesota as wholesale grocers. His father, Edward Fitzgerald, had opened a wicker furniture business in St. Paul, and, when it failed, took a job as a salesman for Procter & Gamble. During the first decade of Fitzgerald's life, his father’s job took the family back and forth between Buffalo and Syracuse in upstate New York. When F. Scott Fitzgerald was 12, Edward Fitzgerald lost his job with Procter & Gamble, and the family moved back to St. Paul in 1908 to live off of his mother's inheritance.

Fitzgerald was a bright, handsome and ambitious boy, the pride and joy of his parents and especially his mother. He attended the St. Paul Academy. When he was 13, he saw his first piece of writing appear in print: a detective story published in the school newspaper. In 1911, when Fitzgerald was 15 years old, his parents sent him to the Newman School, a prestigious Catholic preparatory school in New Jersey. There, he met Father Sigourney Fay, who noticed his incipient talent with the written word and encouraged him to pursue his literary ambitions.

After graduating from the Newman School in 1913, Fitzgerald decided to stay in New Jersey to continue his artistic development at Princeton University. At Princeton, he firmly dedicated himself to honing his craft as a writer, writing scripts for Princeton's famous Triangle Club musicals as well as frequent articles for the Princeton Tiger humor magazine and stories for the Nassau Literary Magazine.

However, Fitzgerald's writing came at the expense of his coursework. He was placed on academic probation, and, in 1917, he dropped out of school to join the U.S. Army. Afraid that he might die in World War I with his literary dreams unfulfilled, in the weeks before reporting to duty, Fitzgerald hastily wrote a novel called The Romantic Egotist. Though the publisher, Charles Scribner's Sons, rejected the novel, the reviewer noted its originality and encouraged Fitzgerald to submit more work in the future.

Fitzgerald was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry and assigned to Camp Sheridan outside of Montgomery, Alabama. The war ended in November 1918, before Fitzgerald was ever deployed. Upon his discharge, he moved to New York City hoping to launch a career in advertising lucrative enough to convince his girlfriend, Zelda, to marry him. He quit his job after only a few months, however, and returned to St. Paul to rewrite his novel.

Later Years

After completing his masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald's life began to unravel. Always a heavy drinker, he progressed steadily into alcoholism and suffered prolonged bouts of writer's block. After two years lost to alcohol and depression, in 1937 Fitzgerald attempted to revive his career as a screenwriter and freelance storywriter in Hollywood, and he achieved modest financial, if not critical, success for his efforts before his death in 1940.






Citation for article:

Biography.com. “F. Scott Fitzgerald.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 7 Dec. 2017, www.biography.com/people/f-scott-fitzgerald-9296261.


Citation for YouTube video:
BiographyChannel. “Mini BIO - F. Scott Fitzgerald.” YouTube, YouTube, 21 Sept. 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?v=PL05VV040Ls.






Video, Audio, & Other Resources

























Reading & Assignment Schedule

***PLEASE NOTE: Students will not be reading the novel during class every day. Most of their reading will be done outside of class. Students will be working on assignments not related to the novel while reading. Assignments related to the novel may be added during the course of their reading.*** 

January 9 -- Pre-Reading Day 1, Worksheet #1 (Due 1/10/18)
January 10 -- Pre-Reading Day 2, Worksheet #2 (Due 1/11/18)
January 11 -- Pre-Reading Day 3, Kubic Article & Questions (Due 1/12/18)
January 12 -- Pre-Reading Day 4, No Homework
January 15 -- HOLIDAY/NO SCHOOL
January 16 --
Begin reading chapters 1-3
January 17 -- MAP TESTING FOR ALL 10TH GRADE, NO REGULAR CLASS, chapters 1-3 continued
January 18 -- Chapters 1-3 continued
January 19 -- Finish reading chapters 1-3
January 22 -- Begin reading chapters 4-6
January 23 -- Chapters 4-6 continued
January 24 -- Chapters 1-3 Exam, chapters 4-6 continued
January 25 -- Chapters 4-6 continued
January 26 -- Finish reading chapters 4-6
January 29 -- Begin reading chapters 7-9
January 30 -- Chapters 7-9 continued
January 31 -- Chapters 4-6 Exam, chapters 7-9 continued
February 1 -- Chapters 7-9 continued
February 2 -- Finish reading chapters 7-9 (novel complete)
February 7 -- Chapters 7-9 Exam
February 12 -- Gatsby Style Analysis Essay rough draft due (optional)
February 16 -- Gatsby Style Analysis Essay final draft due (this assignment is a test grade)
February 23 -- Gatsby Multimedia Extra Credit Project due (optional)













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