In exams, you are often asked to respond to a point of view; this can be rather daunting if you are not used to thinking on your feet. Revise by answering (or planning an answer) to these questions – and then research the text to fill in gaps.
Twenty (plus some) Questions
- How does Gatsby ‘represent the American’ (40). What do you think Fitzgerald means?
- What is the significance of the “valley of ashes” and how does Fitzgerald use religious imagery?
- What is the significance of “the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg”?
- What does the green light symbolise to Gatsby? And to Nick?
- How does Fitzgerald dream? What does the novel have to say about the condition of the American dream in the 1920’s? In what ways do the themes of dreams, wealth, and time relate to each other in the novel’s exploration of the idea of America?
- Is Nick a reliable narrator? How does his point of view colour the reality of the novel, and what facts or occurrences would he have a vested interest in obscuring?
- Trace the use of the colour white in the novel. When does it falsify a sense of innocence? When does it symbolise true innocence?
- In what way(s) is the theme of “innocence” illustrated in the novel?
- Conversely, how does Fitzgerald illustrate the opposite of innocence: i.e. experience?
- At one point in the novel Nick writes: “I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life”juxtapose the different regions of America? Does he write more positively about the East or the Midwest?
- What are the major differences between East Egg and West Egg?
- How does Fitzgerald treat New York City? What is permissible in the urban space that is taboo (not permissible) on the Eggs?
- Is Tom responsible for Gatsby’s death? Daisy? Myrtle? Gatsby himself? Of course,Wilson? Give reasons why or why not each character is implicated in it.
- Fitzgerald says that there are no important women in ‘The Great Gatsby’. Do you agree?
- Look up the term “monomaniac.” Is Gatsby a monomaniac? Why and why not?
- On page 86, Nick says to Gatsby: “Your place looks like the world’s fair.” What is significant about this statement? Beyond the bright gaudiness that the statement implies, what else might Nick mean?
- Besides the obvious conflict between Gatsby, Daisy, and Tom, what other conflicts do you see in the novel?
- What does Myrtle Wilson add to the novel?
- Is there anything tragic about Gatsby? If so make sure you define the tragic element(s). See my tragedy page
- Talk about the significance of Gatsby’s remark to Nick: “Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can!”
Click for this recommended ‘Great Gatsby’ revision site; it is useful for improving textual knowledge.
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