The Great Gatsby: Jay\'s Background and His Downfall


Adam Shane
English 11-1
1-28-96

In the novel, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby did not fit into the
lifestyle of Daisy and her friends. Because of his background, his dreams
were destined to be shattered even before he tried to achieve them. Jay
Gatsby\'s nouveau riche lifestyle was not of the ways of the old rich.
Jay Gatsby killed James Gatz at the age of seventeen as he boarded Dan
Cody\'s yacht. It was "...James Gatz who had been loafing along the beach that
afternoon...but it was already Jay Gatsby who borrowed a rowboat...and informed
Cody that a wind might catch him and break him up..." (ch. 4, pp. 98-9). When
he got on the yacht he was forever known as Jay Gatsby. Gatsby thought he left
his past behind him.
James Gatz came from North Dakota. His parents "...were shiftless and
unsuccessful farm people..." (ch. 4, p. 99). Gatsby made his money very
mysteriously, while the rest of the group inherited their money. This
background put Jay Gatsby on a different level than the group he was trying to
become a part of. Therefore he was never really accepted as one of the group.
In an effort to be accepted by the group, Gatsby tried to show off his
valuables and gave elaborate parties. He tried to make an impression on these
people. Many to these people went to these parties "...without having met
Gatsby at all" (ch. 3,p. 41).
Gatsby did not have a formal education. His background did not support
the background of the old wealth. He lived in West Egg, "...the less fashionable
of the two..." (ch. 1, p. 5). The old rich would not live there.
Jay Gatsby could have never in his life been a part of the old rich. Even
with changing his names and and lifestyle, he could have never changed his
interior. He would always been James Gatz.

Category: English