The Great Gatsby – Chapter 1 Questions
1. How does Nick describe himself at the beginning of the book? Why do you think Fitzgerald chose
him to be the narrator?
a. Nick sees himself as reserved, nonjudgmental (which makes him slightly hopeful), but he
can only be tolerant of others for so long.
b. To use Nick as the narrator places psychic distance to the story. Nick is part of the action,
yet he is not one of the principals. He shares some of the emotions and is in a position to
interpret those of the others. However, the happenings are not centered on him.
2. How does Nick describe Tom Buchanan? Daisy? What kind of relationship do they have (and not
that they’re cousins / old college buddies!)?
a. Nick describes Tom as enormously wealthy, violent, forceful, aggressive, sturdy,
supercilious, arrogant, aggressive, and cruel. He is always living in search of that great
feeling he once had in his youth as the big man on campus, the star athlete.
b. Nick describes Daisy as his cousin, a lady who is charming, inviting yet sad, lovely with
bright features (eyes, lips), and who has a thrilling voice / murmur that draws people in /
c. Nick’s relationship with the Buchanans is completely superficial. Nick speaks of the
Buchanans as dear friends he barely knows.
3. Who is Jordan Baker? What does Nick find appealing about her?
a. Jordan is described as the “balancing girl” – the girl Nick originally thought was snobbish
but later came to like for her confident air. Jordan grew up in Louisville with Daisy. She’s
also a professional golfer, and Nick’s heard her name mentioned somewhere, although he
can’t exactly recall where it was / what it was about.
b. Jordan’s self-assurance is intriguing – she’s so confident and full of herself that she almost
comes off as “self-sufficient.”
4. What is Gatsby doing when Nick first sees him?
a. Gatsby’s reaching out towards something, staring at a green light across the water which
Nick says could come from a light at the end of a dock. He seems to be doing this secretly,
making Nick not want to disturb him.
5. How does the tone of Nick’s description of Tom reveal Nick’s feelings about Tom? What is the
significance of Tom’s reference to the book he is reading?
a. Nick isn’t very fond of Tom. He sees him as dangerous, violent, threatening, and pompous in
a way. He even mentions a nervous feeling of wanting to call the cops when he feels the
tension between Tom and Daisy rising and how the best bet for Daisy would be to leave
Tom immediately, which even at this point he knows she won’t do.
b. The content of the book Tom’s reading implies a certain lack of intellect on Tom’s part. It
reveals Tom’s belief that the dominant race must stay in control, that lesser races must be
beaten off, which of course reflects Tom’s own need to be in control and dominant of his
surroundings and those around him.