SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

Every Great Gatsby Character You Have to Know: Complete List

Posted by Dr. Anna Wulick | May 25, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Book Guides

 

feature_crowd.jpg

This article provides a broad overview of all of The Great Gatsby characters, their relationships and connections, and any major issues and questions surrounding them. 

Throughout the guide, you will find links to each character’s page, as well as links to our character analysis, compare/contrast, and quotes pages. Use this page as your jumping-off point for discovering The Great Gatsby’s major and minor players!

 

The Great Gatsby Main Characters

Click on each character's name for a detail-rich article featuring descriptions, quotes, and character analysis - including some answers to the discussion questions listed for each character!

 

Jay Gatsby 

The titular “Great Gatsby,” a selfmade man who is desparate to be seen as part of the social elite and whose ill-gotten wealth is always on display through his lavish lifestyle. He is convinced that he can "repeat the past" and win back the love of his life, Daisy Fay Buchanan.

Relationships with Other Characters

  • Meets Nick and Jordan at one of his parties and becomes particularly close to Nick
  • Dated Daisy five years before the start of the novel; has an affair with her during the novel
  • Rivals with Tom for Daisy's love
  • In the car with Daisy when Daisy runs Myrtle over
  • Killed by George

Major Issues, Theories, and Questions

  • Why is Gatsby so intent on reliving the past?
  • What makes Gatsby so “great,” anyway?
  • What does Gatsby’s infatuation with Daisy represent?
  • Is Gatsby a tragic hero?
  • How would the novel be different if Gatsby actually won over Daisy? Would it be as powerful?
  • Modern theories: Gatsby is black but passing as white, or Gatsby is Jewish but hiding it. How do these theories change a traditional reading of the novel?

 

Nick Carraway 

The first-person narrator, an observant Yale graduate who moves from the Midwest to NYC to be a bond salesman and quickly falls in with Tom, Daisy, Jordan, and Jay. He ends the novel completely disenchanted with the old money elite, who turn out to be horrible people.

Relationships with Other Characters

  • Friends with Tom Buchanan from college
  • A second cousin of Daisy’s
  • Jordan’s boyfriend during the book, though they break up near the end
  • Meets Myrtle and George through Tom
  • Meets Gatsby due to moving in next to him and being invited to one of Gatsby’s parties

Major Issues, Theories, and Questions

  • Is Nick a reliable narrator? Why or why not?
  • How does Nick change throughout the novel?
  • Why does Nick come to admire Gatsby so much?
  • Modern theory: Nick is gay. If he is, how does this affect our analysis of the novel?

 

Daisy Buchanan 

A passive and increasingly unhappy woman married to Tom Buchanan. She was once in love with Gatsby, and reconnects with him as a way to escape her sense of purposelessness and hopelessnes.

Relationships with Other Characters

  • Second cousin to Nick
  • Dated Gatsby five years before the novel opens; has an affair with Gatsby
  • In an unhappy, but stable, marriage to Tom
  • Friends with Jordan from childhood
  • Kills Myrtle in a hit and run car accident

Major Issues, Theories, and Questions

  • Does Daisy really love Gatsby?
  • What does Daisy stand for in the novel? (Wealth, unrequited love, the American Dream…)
  • Why is Daisy’s voice described as being “full of money”?
  • How much do we actually know about Daisy as a character? Where in the novel do we get glimpses of her emotions and motivations?
  • Is Daisy a flapper? How is she affected by the societal expectations of women in the 1920s?
  • Recent discussion: why is Daisy so frequently despised by modern readers? Does that harsh criticism reveal misogyny on the part of the readers/critics of Gatsby?

 

Tom Buchanan 

A wealthy old classmate of Nick’s, who is married to Daisy and is cheating on her with Myrtle Wilson. He uses his physical and social power to bully those around him, but is the only one who sees through Gatsby's fake "Oxford man" persona.

Relationships with Other Characters

  • Knows Nick from their days at Yale
  • Married to Daisy
  • Friends with Jordan through Daisy
  • Rival to Gatsby
  • Patronizes George Wilson’s garage
  • Having an affair with Myrtle

Major Issues, Theories, and Questions

  • Tom and Daisy are people “who smash things up and retreat into their money”: what does Tom and Daisy’s characterization reveal about Fitzgerald’s portrayal of old money?

 

Jordan Baker 

A professional golf player and friend of Daisy’s who dates Nick during the novel. Jordan is calm, cynical, and self-centered - qualities which at first attrack Nick to her, and then repel him when he realizes the extent of her cold selfishness.

Relationships with Other Characters

  • Friends with Daisy from childhood
  • Friends with Tom through Daisy
  • Meets Gatsby during one of his parties; arranges for Gatsby to meet Nick and thus reconnects Gatsby to Daisy
  • Dates Nick

Major Issues, Theories, and Questions

  • What’s Jordan's role in the story? How would the novel be different without her?
  • What does the section in Chapter 4 featuring Jordan’s narration reveal about the limitations of Nick as a narrator? What would the novel be like if it was narrated by Jordan?

 

Myrtle Wilson 

A woman who is dissatisfied with her working class life as a car mechanic’s wife. She is having an affair with Tom partly because it allows her to experience some degree of freedom from her marriage and to indulge her materialist desires. 

Relationships with Other Characters

  • Married to George
  • Having an affair with Tom
  • Run over and killed by Daisy

Major Issues, Theories, and Questions

  • What does Myrtle’s life and tragic ending say about the American Dream?
  • Why do Tom and Myrtle get together? What do they see in each other, and how does their relationship reveal each character’s motivations?
  • What does the novel's focus on Myrtle’s body say about its treatment of women?

 

George Wilson 

A depressed and weak-willed man who runs a car garage. He loves his wife, Myrtle, and has no idea that she is having an affair. Myrtle's death completely unhinges him.

Relationships with Other Characters

  • Married to Myrtle
  • Trying to buy Tom's car for resale
  • Meets Nick through Tom
  • Kills Gatsby in revenge for Myrtle's death, then kills himself

Major Issues, Theories, and Questions

  • What does George’s tragic outcome reveal about the status of The American Dream?
  • Why is George the only person who seriously mentions God during the novel? What is the significance of the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg to him?

 

The Great Gatsby Minor Characters

Below, I've listed all of the second-string Great Gatsby characters: people who appear in the novel, but aren't integral to the plot. They're grouped according to which of the main characters they're mostly closely associated with.

 

Associates of Gatsby

Dan Cody - a millionaire who befriended James Gatz, hired him to work on his yacht, and taught him how to be Jay Gatsby. Cody tried to leave Gatsby his fortune, but Cody's wife managed to claim the inheritance.

Ewing Klipspringer - one of Gatsby's party guests who ends up living in Gatsby's mansion full-time. He is forced to play piano to entertain Daisy when she and Gatsby reconnect. After Gatsby's death, Klipspringer refuses to come to the funeral, calling Gatsby's house only to collect his tennis shoes.

Owl Eyes - another of Gatsby's party guests who wears glasses that look like owl eyes. He is floored by the expansive and expensively furnished library in Gatsby's mansion, and by the fact that none of the books has been read. Owl Eyes is the only party guest who attends Gatsby's funeral.

Meyer Wolfshiem - a gangster who fixed the 1919 World Series, gave Gatsby a job at the end of WWI, and became Gatsby's business partner and the source of his immense wealth. Wolfshiem's loyalty ends with Gatsby's death, and also refuses to come to the funeral.

Henry C. Gatz - Gatsby's father, a shabby and poor man who is in awe of his son's accomplishments. He comes to Gatsby's funeral after reading about his death in the newspaper, and shows Nick a self-improvement schedule that Gatsby had written as a boy.

 

Friends of George and Myrtle

Catherine - Myrtle's sister and one of the guests of the party Tom and Myrtle host in a Manhattan apartment. She roots for Tom to leave Daisy so he and Myrtle can be together forever; later, she gives evidence that Myrtle has never had an affair, so that the police report about the car accident that killed Myrtle leaves the Buchanans out altogether.

Michaelis - the owner of a coffee shop near George Wilson's gas station who overhears Myrtle and George fighting just before her death, and who has a conversation with an increasingly unhinged George about the fact that the billboard of the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg isn't God.

Mr. and Mrs. McKee - two of Tom and Myrtle's apartment party guests who kowtow to her. Theories of Nick's homosexuality hinge on the strange, incomplete piece of the after-party narration where it sounds like Nick and Mr. McKee went home together.

 

Friends and Family of Daisy and Tom

Pammy Buchanan - the toddler daughter of Daisy and Tom Buchanan, who is mostly raised by a nanny, according to upper-class custom. Because she serves as visual proof that Daisy has had a life outside of Gatsby, Gatsby finds her presence extremely unnerving.

Sloane and his woman friend - two of Tom's rich horseback-riding friends who stop by Gatsby's house, presume on his hospitality and are rude in return.

 

What’s Next?

Want to write a great essay on one of these characters? We've got tips and writing advice for how to knock your character analysis essay out of the park!

Need help comparing and contrasting these characters? Check out our articles on how to write a compare and contrast analysis of the most common character pairings, and on dissecting the romantic pairings in the novel.

Interested in seeing how these characters intesect with the novel's themes and symbols? Check out our in-depth guides!

 

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

Enroll Now

Free eBook: 5 Tips to 4+ Points on the ACT

 

Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!
Dr. Anna Wulick
About the Author

Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education.



Get Free Guides to Boost Your SAT/ACT
100% Privacy. No spam ever.

You should definitely follow us on social media. You'll get updates on our latest articles right on your feed. Follow us on all 3 of our social networks:

Twitter and Google+



Ask a Question Below

Have any questions about this article or other topics? Ask below and we'll reply!