The Character of James Gatsby

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The Character of James Gatsby There is a saying that each person is actually three people: Who he is, who he thinks he is, and who others think he is. Who Jay Gatsby thinks he is, is what he has invented. Who others think he is, is wildly speculative. Yet the answer is elusive to who is Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is the most shadowy figure in terms of reader knowledge. Yet he is the only character that at the end of the story turns out, ironically, the most truthful. Who Gatsby is, we find out, is shown in contrast to the other characters and their behavior. What does the reader know about Gatsby besides he is the title character? The whole first chapter is devoted to Nick Carraway and his background. The glimpse we get of Gatsby through Nick's eyes sets the pattern of the book. Gatsby will be available to the reader primarily through Nick's view. Since Nick is as unfamiliar with Gatsby as we are the first impressions of him are through gossip. The rumors about Gatsby are numerous and set forth from the very people who take advantage of his hospitality. The rumors about Gatsby are partially due to his inaccessibility. He surrounds himself with people but never interacts deeply. The persistent beliefs about him can also be attributed to reasoning like Daisy's: "We heard it from three people so it must be true" (Fitzgerald 24). As one woman, a guest at Gatsby's party, tells Nick: "He's a bootlegger...One time he killed a man..." (Fiztgerald 65). His wealth from which no source can be ascertained also contributes to his reputation. Despite these cloudy beliefs about him, Nick's first impression is very positive. "It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you come across four or five times in l... ... middle of paper ... ...rmed by him. He represents the hope and belief in the human will. He has unwavering faith in his ability to bring his dreams into reality. Gatsby's "greatness" comes from his honest motivations. We like him because he never realized the futility of trying to recapture the past. As Nick narrates: "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us" (Fitzgerald 189). This thought sums who is Gatsby. Nick's idea that "we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past" (Fitzgerald 189) would never have crossed Gatsby's mind. He would have made the current go his way. And we are lucky for that, because we all need a little Gatsby in ourselves that believes the sidewalk ahead of us is a ladder to the world. Work Cited Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Simon and Schuster Inc., New York: 1991.

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