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MonkeyNotes-The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald-Free Booknotes Summary
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CONFLICT

The novel is really a combination of two plot lines developing simultaneously, creating two sets of protagonists, antagonists, climaxes, and outcomes. Both are given below.

NICK CARRAWAY'S PLOT

Protagonist

Nick Carraway, the proper young man with roots in the Midwest, is the narrator of the story and the protagonist of his own plot, which forms the frame narrative of the novel. He tries to escape his limited, small town experience in the Midwest and to find himself in New York.

Antagonist

Nick's antagonist is his past and his own limited view of things. Although he tries to run away from his Midwestern heritage, he cannot escape it. His values and beliefs are too entrenched in his whole being. At the end of the book, after becoming totally disillusioned with the world of Daisy and Tom, Nick accepts who he is and returns to live an orderly life in the Midwestern town from which he came.


Climax

The climax for Nick comes in the eighth chapter, after the blow-up between Tom and Gatsby. The next morning Nick goes over to Gatsby's house. Although he has been critical of his neighbor all through the novel, he now realizes that Gatsby is worth more than all of "them" put together. He finally sees that Tom and Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Baker, and the entire monied class of society is purposeless and devoid of moral value. He then realizes that his place is not in New York.

Outcome

Nick's story ends in comedy, for he reckons with and accepts his past and who he is and returns home to the Midwest to the orderly life of his youth and upbringing. He is really the only truly moral character in the novel.

JAY GATSBY'S PLOT

Protagonist

Jay Gatsby, the symbol of new money, is the protagonist of a second plot that is totally interwoven into Nick's plot. His gauche behavior and extravagant display of wealth is somewhat purified by his dream of being able to have Daisy Buchanan. Since he met her when he was stationed in Louisville in the army, he has devoted his whole life to obtaining his dream - to winning Daisy for himself.

Antagonist

Gatsby's protagonist is reaching his goal, his dream of being meritorious of Daisy. The irony is that Daisy is not worthy of Gatsby, for she is a selfish, thoughtless young woman who is restless and devoid of value. Gatsby, however, never realizes this fact, for he has put her on a pedestal and spent his adult life idolizing and trying to win her. Until the very end, he sadly believes his dream is obtainable.

Climax

The climax for Gatsby occurs in the seventh chapter when he and Tom fight about Daisy. Hoping to make his dream come true, he tries to make Daisy say that she loves him and has never loved Tom. Although she utters the words, they are not said with any sincerity, for what Daisy wants is to have both Gatsby and Tom. When forced to choose, she will not desert the comfortable life of the wealthy, established society in which she has always lived; thus, Gatsby's dream is destroyed, Daisy has chosen Tom over him.

Outcome

The plot ends in tragedy for Gatsby. He is tragically shot by George Wilson, who believes that Gatsby is his wife's lover and her murderer. In fact, had he not been killed, Gatsby's life would have been miserable, for he would have realized that Daisy would never again be part of his existence; his holy grail, the dream of possessing Daisy, is obliterated forever when Daisy chooses Tom over Gatsby.

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