Jay Gatsby/James Gatz
"The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself." (F. Scott Fitzgerald, 98)
In this chapter, the readers learn about Jay Gatsby's past, where he was previously known as James Gatz. This quote itself tells the readers how James Gatz's persona of Jay Gatsby was created by himself, modelling himself of his own ideal version of 'Jay Gatsby'. Jay Gatsby is an illusion that young James Gatz created for himself, and represents everything that James Gatz wanted to be - wealthy, successful, and powerful.
- Determined and Persistent - never veers from what he set his mind to (ex. chase Daisy and attain the American Dream). His ability to turn his hopes and dreams into realization is what makes him so "great".
"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." (F. Scott Fitzgerald, 98)
- Optimistic - believes that life is full of hope and goodness and is optimistic about the future. He had always held on to the hope that he and Daisy can get back together again, and believes that Daisy truly loves him.
- Ambitious - has a clear goal and mindset towards his future
""I'm going to fix everything just the way it was before," he said, nodding determinedly." (F. Scott Fitzgerald, 110)
- Devoted - even though Daisy "dumped" him and married Tom, Gatsby still loves Daisy and wants to rekindle the relationship between them.
- Dwells on the past between him and Daisy too much - cannot let it go
"He talked a lot about the past..he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then..." (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
- Dishonest - a compulsive liar; lies about his past, saying that he is the son of some wealthy people in the mid-west who are now all dead, even though he is actually the son of a poor farmer in North Dakota.
- Possessive - loves Daisy too much to the extent that he wants her to tell Tom that she doesn't love him. He doesn't say this aloud, but it is implied in through his behaviour and Nick's quote as the narrator.
"He was profoundly affected by the fact that Tom was there." (F. Scott Fitzgerald, 101)
"He wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should go to Tom and say: "I never loved you."" (F. Scott Fitzgerald, 109)
- Naïve - sometimes too optimistic that he is naïve - believing that he and Daisy can get back together and that she loves him. Which part of Gatsby does Daisy love about him, though: his status and wealth, or his personality? Gatsby also thinks of the 'old money' insincere politeness that Tom and the Sloanes display towards him as actual politeness. This is where his naïvety is a weakness and can be used against him.
"Can't repeat the past? Why of course you can!" (F. Scott Fitzgerald, 110)
"Doesn't he know she doesn't want him?" (F. Scott Fitzgerald, 103)
"Come on, we're late. We've got to go. Tell him we couldn't wait, will you?" (F. Scott Fitzgerald, 103)
- Sentimental - lets his nostalgic feelings of the memories between him and Daisy take over his persona/identity as the "Great Gatsby"
"Though all he said, even through his appalling sentimentality..." (F. Scott Fitzgerald, 111)
Role in the Novel
Jay Gatsby himself is the main example of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby. The young James Gatz created an alternate identity of himself, striving to fulfill his dreams. Jay Gatsby represents everything that young Gatz wanted to be, who strived to become the man that he envisioned. After much work and time, he achieved the American Dream, going from a person of little wealth to one of great presence in the upper class, earning his money and status through his own efforts: a classic rags-to-riches concept of the American Dream.