The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Analysis of Chapter 1
The reader needs to be aware that Nick is the narrator, as well as one of the most important characters in the novel. The story is told through his eyes about people close to him and we cannot be sure that his impressions are necessarily accurate. Anything he says about himself cannot be taken as gospel in particular. Whatever conclusions the text gives of a character, remember the person who they are being filtered through.
Nick importantly brings up that he is from the midwest. Toward the end of the book he says that all of the characters were not from the east and therefore not fit to live there. Their past lives hindered their ability to live in their current ones. He also says that he is from the middle class. Class is one of them most important themes in the novel and affects the relationships of the characters. Much of the way people are treated in the story can be linked to their class and social position.
Take Daisy, for example. While Nick and Jordan are visiting for dinner she talks about her little girl. She was very upset after the birth because Tom was nowhere to be found. When the nurse told her the baby was a girl Daisy said, "I'm glad it's a girl, And I hope she'll be a fool- that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool". Here we see the social position of women being criticized. Daisy is a witty and clever woman, far more so than her brute husband, yet she is treated as inferior because she is a woman. This is also why Tom can flaunt his affair ‐ as a man he does not have to worry about the consequences.
Later, when Nick sees Gatsby on the lawn, he watches him intently. He notices that Gatsby is looking out at the water but the only thing that is visible is a green light far away. That green light is the most important piece of symbolism in the book. It is the light on the end of Daisy's dock across the bay. Its meaning and references in the text are discussed further in the symbolism section of this study guide.
- Chapter Summaries & Analysis
- Character Analysis
- Important Quotes