The Truth Behind Jay Gatsby

May 28, 2012
By marlean179 BRONZE, Norwood Park, Illinois
marlean179 BRONZE, Norwood Park, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Desire is a powerful thing. It can drive people to do things that they normally wouldn’t even think of doing. In the book The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald Jay Gatsby is in love with Daisy. To who is married to someone else but used to be his lover. He goes to extreme measures to try and get her back into his life. Gatsby only cares about money and material things. He is a bootlegger and he manipulated his neighbor and friend Nick. He also made up a devious complex plan to get Daisy back. It is clear by the end of the book that the mysterious character of Gatsby comes to show what kind of person he truly is. Jay Gatsby is a shallow manipulative person and will do whatever it takes to get what he wants.

Gatsby is very shallow because he only cares about material things and money. In the article “Gatsby as Gangster” by Thomas H. Pauly he proves my statements to be true. In the book Gatsby shows Daisy his beautiful shirts and Daisy cries because she has never seen anything so beautiful. “There such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such-such beautiful shirts before” (Fitzgerald 92). Gatsby knew that by showing her his house and his nice clothe that she would be impressed and want to be with him even more. These shirts establish what kind of person he is. How he cares so much about possessions and what people think of him. These traits are of a very superficial person. He is a perfect example of someone that has so much that he doesn’t need. He buys all of these expensive items to impress Daisy. He does this to make him more desirable and to convince Daisy of his worthiness. (Pauly 1) His whole life after the war revolved around getting enough money in any way possible. As Jonathan Vetch says in “Jay Gatsby, Shane, Nevada Smith A “Memoir”” Gatsby attempts to create an identity through his possessions. In order to establish self esteem. (Page 7) Gatsby doesn’t have a personality he makes himself out of his possessions. He lacks so much in his personality and doesn’t really know how to be his own person. In his mind it seems to him that if he can get all of these expensive items then people will like him. He will do whatever it takes to get enough money so that he can have his lavish objects even if it is illegal. His actions show how shallow he is and how much material things and money mean to him.

Jay Gatsby is a bootlegger and does illegal activity as part of his daily life. Gatsby’s job throughout the book is very mysterious no one knows exactly what he does. But there are many rumors and we assume that it isn’t something very honorable. In the novel there is several times where his job is questioned. He once asked Nick if he wanted a side job with him but was very careful as to what he said. “… You see, I carry on a little business on the side, a sort of side line, you understand. And I thought that if you don’t make very much—You’re selling bonds, aren’t you, old sport?” “Well, this would interest you. It wouldn’t take up much of your time and you might pick up a nice bit of money. It happens to be rather confidential sort of thing.”(Fitzgerald 82-83).

Gatsby is very careful as to not tell Nick exactly what the job is. Nick says no to the job because he can tell something is not right. We are never told exactly what type of work Gatsby had in mind for Nick but it is assumed that it had to do with selling stolen bonds. Gatsby also uses the word “confidential” when describing the type of work. Which we assume means illegal or under the table type of work. Nothing any good righteous man would want to be apart of. Many readers are confused by Gatsby’s bootlegging and drugstores. Fitzgerald always briefly mentions them but never goes into detail (Pauly 1). Tom Buchanan accuses Gatsby of his work and says Gatsby’s drug store chain is “just small change” compared to his stolen bonds (Pauly 3). What he is saying here is that the money he got from his drug store chain may be a lot but its nothing compared to the ridiculous amount of money he gets from his stolen bonds. Gatsby wanted to make a lot of money and fast so when he met Wolfsheim he became a bootlegger. But he had to pay a high price to get all of that money. Gatsby was suspected and proved to be a bootlegger.

Gatsby manipulated Nick into thinking he’s a good person. Although we don’t know everything about Gatsby because he remains a mysterious character through out the novel we do know that he is a bootlegger. We also know that he is shallow and that there are many rumors about him. None of which are good. In fact one of the rumors is that he killed a man. Even though Nick knows all of this about Gatsby he still thinks he is a good person. Nick always sticks up for Gatsby and is his only real friend. He was one of the only people that came when Gatsby died. Nick thinks so highly of Gatsby, as we can tell through his narration. Any other person would find it very hard to defend Gatsby because he is a criminal who has no sense of reality and an impossible dream but Nick stands up from him every time. He defends Gatsby even though he has such high regard for Daisy that he doesn’t see the spirit in her (Monterio 5). Gatsby manipulated Nick into thinking that he’s a good person. Gatsby isn’t a good person everyone knows that but Nick seems to think differently. He thinks this because Gatsby has convinced him that he isn’t some kind of low down scum. That he isn’t a lowlife gangster. But that he is a very nice gentle man. It is clear that he tries to convince every one, especially Nick of his well manners. We see this when he calls everyone old sport all the time. Or by the lies he tells Nick. He tells Nick that he is from a rich family and that he is an Oxford man. But really his parents are poor farmers and he only went to Oxford for five months. He manipulates Nick by telling him these lies and by keeping an upscale figure. Gatsby’s true personality comes through one day when he is talking to Nick. Nick says,” We hadn’t reached West Egg Village before Gatsby began leaving his elegant sentences unfinished and slapping himself on the knee of his caramel-colored suit” (Fitzgerald 64). This quote has some irony in it. Because he is slapping his knee like a lower class farmer would while he is wearing an expensive elegant suit that no farmer could ever afford. It really shows that you can take away his old clothes and give him fancy new ones and the outside may be painted and dressed all pretty and proper but it’s the inside that you can’t take out of him. Underneath Gatsby’s nice clothing is really just an uneducated farm boy. He then proceeds in asking Nick what he thinks of him. He cares so much of what Nick thinks of him and he tries to impress him. He might be asking this to see how well his act of being a rich man is holding up. He also tries to prove to Nick that he is a good man. If he was a good man he wouldn’t have to ask or try to impress anyone. He wouldn’t have to manipulate people into thinking he is good. Not many people like Gatsby. He only has Nick as his friend and Nick thinks the world of him. Nick is manipulated into thinking that Gatsby is a good person. Gatsby does many horrible things such as this to get what he wants.

Gatsby made up a devious complex plan to get Daisy back. Gatsby’s dream is to have Daisy back. He will do whatever it takes to get her away from her husband and back with him. He built a huge expensive house right across the lake from hers. So that he can be close to her and see her from afar. He buys lavish items and clothes just to impress her. Gatsby keeps trying to ketch Daisy to get her back. But he can never catch her. The light inside of Daisy as well as the green light at the end of her dock is always changing. But this doesn’t bother Gatsby. It is also not the reason why Gatsby couldn’t get Daisy in the end. But it is because Gatsby’s devotion to her is something that Daisy can’t live up to (“The Great Gatsby” 19). Gatsby doesn’t get Daisy at the end so his plan isn’t successful. He tried so hard to get Daisy to love only him. When the couples are in the hotel Gatsby tells Tom that Daisy never loved him and that she loves him. Daisy admits to loving Gatsby but that isn’t enough for him, he asks to speak with her alone so that he can further his plan but she says, “Even alone I cant say that I never loved Tom,” she admitted in a pitiful voice, “It wouldn’t be true” (Fitzgerald 133). This quote shows that Daisy knows what Gatsby wants and what he is trying to do. He wants her back and he wants her to love and to only have loved him. But she doesn’t just love Gatsby she loves both of them. This was not apart of Gatsby’s plans. Five years of making this plan and waiting for the right time to approach her again is for nothing. Gatsby became a bootlegger to get her back he threw many parties hoping she would come to one. He was a man with an agenda and he intended to get what he wanted. Gatsby made up an unsuccessful five year plan to get Daisy back.

Jay Gatsby is a very shallow person, who only cares about material things and money. He is a bootlegger and does illegal activity daily. Gatsby manipulated Nick into thinking he is a good person. He also made a complex plan to get Daisy back. These reasons are why I believe Jay Gatsby is a shallow manipulative person and will do whatever it takes to get what he wants.

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This article has 3 comments.

SqOvaH .. said...
on May. 13 2015 at 1:02 am
Negative effects in a society thats what I want to know...

The gatz said...
on Mar. 30 2015 at 7:51 pm
Read it again

mariamarley said...
on Jan. 24 2014 at 3:27 pm
Responding to the article, the "Truth behind Gatsby"...first, this is one interpretive opinion and I must disagree with your view to the original author of this article and agree w/ the other two posts.  Jay Gatsby was a COMPLEX character in Fitzgerald's novel.  Certainly the firvolity and vanity of the roaring tewenties permeates throughout his novel, Fitzgerald creates a complex character in Gatsby.  He initially is a poor boy who fall helplessly in love with his sweetheart-Daisy.  The story unfolds that eventually Daisy chooses Tom over Gatsby because 'rich girls never marry poor boys' as stated by her character in the novel.  Gatsby is a romantic and does whatever he can even if illegeal to win her back.  Now he is where Fitzgerald conveys Gatsby's second role--rich bootlegger.  Once a poor romantic and now a affluent wealthy man with the means and motives to finally get his girl back.  Now he is a rich man and hopes Daisy will realize that not only he is her soulmate from hwen they first met, but now he had wealth-which Gatsby thinks she will want.  If anything, Gatsy is a romanitic who is actually too good for the flaky Daisy.  He risked everything to gain her.  He is not materialistic--he never even attended his outrageous parties--he just held them thinking the shallow Daisy would find her way into one.  Only the elusive character 'Owl Eyes' ever truly cared to know who Gatsby was as he was the only character to go looking at Gatsby's library to see what Gatsby enjoyed reading and to try to identify with him and not buy into the party goers rumors of Gatsby.  To the writer of the above article--inference is great in literature but please do not be naive--do your research, read more than one other author than the one who agrees w/ your opinion.  And understand that when another writer has a similar viewpoint to you, this does not confirm that you are right or truthful.

kell said...
on Sep. 2 2013 at 3:23 pm
I completely agree...Gatsby did not care AT ALL about money lol. He did it all to get Daisy back. I mean he SAYS right in the movie that once she just says she never loved her husband they would go back to her family & their old life of fun right to Nick.  He never PARTIED with any of those people, they had NO clue who he was throughout the entire film HELLO. Because he was not there to IMPRESS anyone, he put it all on to lure & find Daisy. He spoke Nick about this a few times in the book.

JGAlways said...
on May. 5 2013 at 10:44 pm
hi, I had to stop reading several paragraphs into this because you (whom ever wrote this) are dead wrong. This says that Gatsby cared about his clothes and money, when it is absolutly clear that he didn't care one lick about the fame fashion and power, it was all a ruse to get back with Daisy.
Was Gatsby foolish? Yes because Daisy is shallow, the way you mistakenly described Gatsby, J Gatsby's flaw is he loves a vain and shallow woman who loves money and fashion, Gatsby couldn't care less about any of that. The entire reason he took the measures he did to bootleg and become a millionare, throw the lavish parties and buy the fancy clothes, was all to get her back. Gatsby was a hopeless romantic and because of this he built a facad, a false empire to try and be the man Daisy wanted, that's the entire drive behind who Gatsby was and that's why i stoped reading three paragraphs in, you Completly missed the point.
Notice how Daisy cried after Gatsby showed her the clothes he had? that PROVES that Gatsby only got those close in hopes that he could show them off to HER, it worked. Also notice that he stayed locked up at his own parties, spying down on the crowd to see if he could find Daisy, if he were shallow he would be mingeling and saying "How great am I?" But he didn't because that's not what he wanted to do, he just wanted his girl back


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