The Great Gatsby

Over Memorial weekend I watched the movie, the Great Gatsby, based on a book.

In the summer of 1922, Nick Carraway, an author and WWI veteran moves from the U.S. Midwest to New York, where he takes a job as a bond salesman. He buys a cozy cabin on Long Island in the fictional village of West Egg, next door to the lavish mansion of Jay Gatsby, a mysterious business man who holds frequent and extravagant parties. Nick drives across the bay to East Egg for dinner at the home of his cousin, Daisy Buchanan, and her husband, Tom, a college acquaintance of Nick’s. They introduce Nick to Jordan Baker, an attractive, cynical young golfer with whom Daisy wishes to couple Nick.

Jordan reveals to Nick that Tom has another secret lover who lives in an industrial dumping ground. (“valley of ashes”) between West Egg and New York City. Not long after this revelation, Nick travels with Tom to the valley of ashes, where they stop by a garage owned by George Wilson and his wife, Myrtle, who is Tom’s lover that Jordan mentioned. Nick goes with Tom and Myrtle to an apartment that they keep for their affair, where Myrtle throws a vulgar and bizarre party, with her sister Catherine, that ends with Tom breaking her nose as she taunts him about Daisy.

As the summer progresses, Nick receives an invitation to one of Gatsby’s parties. Upon arriving, he learns that none of the guests at the party, though there are hundreds, have ever met Gatsby himself, or been invited cordially, and they have developed multiple theories as to who he is, such as a German spy, or a thief. Nick encounters Jordan, and they meet Gatsby, who is surprisingly young and rather aloof, in person. Gatsby begins to get to know Nick Better and the two become mutual friends. Their friendship develops after Gatsby takes Nick out to lunch with his mysterious friend Meyer Wolfshiem. Through information given to Jordan, Nick later learns that Gatsby fell in love with Daisy in 1917, and is still madly in love with her. He spends many nights staring at the green light at the end of her dock, reaching out to it, across the bay from his mansion, hoping to one day rekindle their lost romance. Gatsby’s extravagant lifestyle and wild parties are an attempt to impress Daisy in the hopes that she will one day appear at Gatsby’s doorstep at a party. Gatsby now asks Nick a favor and wants Nick to arrange a reunion between himself and Daisy. Nick invites Daisy to have tea at his house, without telling her that Gatsby will be there also.

After an initially awkward reunion, Gatsby and Daisy reconnect, and they begin an affair. Shortly after, Daisy and Tom attend one of Gatsby’s parties, where suspicion builds up in Tom about the relationship between Gatsby and Daisy. During a lunch at the Buchanans’ house (with Nick and Gatsby invited), Gatsby stares at Daisy for such a long time that Tom realizes Gatsby is in love with her. Though Tom himself is involved in an extramarital affair, he is furious with both Gatsby and Daisy, but doesn’t say anything about it. He forces the group to drive into New York City for a ‘party’, where he confronts Gatsby in a suite at the Plaza Hotel. Tom boasts that he and Daisy have a history that Gatsby could never understand and never live up to, and he announces to his wife that Gatsby is a criminal. This pushes Gatsby to his breaking point, and he has an explosive outburst of fury, much to his own dismay. After this incident, Daisy realizes that her allegiance is to Tom, who contemptuously sends her back to East Egg with Gatsby, attempting to prove that Gatsby cannot hurt him.

When Nick, Jordan, and Tom drive through the valley of ashes, however, they discover that Gatsby’s car has struck and killed Myrtle, Tom’s extramarital lover. They rush back to Long Island, where Nick learns from Gatsby that Daisy, wanting to calm her nerves, had been driving the car at the time of the accident. But, Gatsby decided to take the blame, for he didn’t want to put Daisy in danger. Despite the events that occurred at the Plaza, Gatsby is convinced that Daisy will call him the next day, and waits in front of his telephone. That night, he reveals to Nick that he was born penniless, and his real name is James Gatz. In the morning, Nick leaves for work while Gatsby decides to go for a swim before his pool is drained for the season. He asks for the telephone to be brought down to the pool, still waiting for Daisy to call. The night before, Tom tells Myrtle’s husband, George, that Gatsby was the driver of the car. George jumps to the conclusion that Gatsby had also been Myrtle’s lover (because he had seen Myrtle wear a string of pearls that she couldn’t afford, and assumed that someone bought it for her), and he retrieves a gun. Back at the mansion, Gatsby hears the phone ring, and believes it to be Daisy. As he is climbing out of the pool while looking hopefully across the bay at Daisy’s mansion, he is abruptly shot and killed by George, who immediately turns the gun on himself. It is revealed that it is Nick on the phone, and he hears the two gunshots.

When Nick calls the Buchanans to invite Daisy to Gatsby’s funeral, he learns that she, Tom, and their daughter are leaving New York. Only the press, whom Nick chases out, attend the funeral. The media accuse Gatsby of being both the murderer and lover of Myrtle, leaving Nick as the only one who knows the truth. Evidently disillusioned with his fascination for the East Coast, he soon moves back to the Midwest to escape the disgust he feels for the people surrounding Gatsby’s life, as well as the moral decay and emptiness of the wealthy of the East Coast. Back in the sanatorium, Nick finishes his memoir and titles it, “The Great Gatsby”.

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