When looking at Jay Gatsby, one sees many different personalities and ideals. There is the gracious host, the ruthless bootlegger, the hopeless romantic, and beneath it all, there is James Gatz of North Dakota. The many faces of Gatsby make a reader question whether they truly know Gatsby as a person. Many people question what exactly made Jay Gatsby so “great.” These different personas, when viewed separately, are quite unremarkable in their own ways. When you take them together, however, you discover the complicated and unique individual that is Jay Gatsby.
One of the traits of Gatsby that makes him truly great is his remarkable capacity for hope. He has faith that what he desires will come to him if he works hard enough. He does not comprehend the cruelty and danger that is the rest of the world. Gatsby, while a man of questionable morals, is as wide-eyed and innocent as a small child in his views of the world. These ideals are evident in Nick’s narration and in the words spoken by the other characters, including Gatsby himself.
For five years, Gatsby was denied the one thing that he desired more than anything in the world: Daisy. While she was willing to wait for him until after the war, he did not want to return to her a poor man who would, in his eyes, be unworthy of her love. Gatsby did not want to force Daisy to choose between the comfortable lifestyle she was used to and his love. Before he would return to her, he was determined to make something of himself so that Daisy would not lose the affluence that she was accustomed to possessing. His desire for Daisy made Gatsby willing to do whatever was necessary to earn the money that would in turn lead to Daisy’s love, even if it meant participating in actions that were not completely legal.
When first becoming acquainted with Nick, Gatsby brought him to the city to have lunch with a man whom he called his friend, Meyer Wolfsheim. Wolfsheim told Nick that “‘We [Gatsby and Wolfsheim] were so thick like that in everything’—he held up two bulbous fingers—‘always together’” (Fitzgerald 171). Gatsby had informed Nick at one point that Wolfsheim was a gambler and had been responsible for the fixing of the 1919 World Series (Fitzgerald 73). Wolfsheim was also known for spending time with notorious gangsters and bootleggers. Gatsby had first become acquainted with Wolfsheim right after the war, several years before. During a brief lunch meeting, he attempted to make a “business proposal” to Nick, whom he had just met minutes before (70). If Wolfsheim was willing to involve a stranger in his illicit activities after meeting him for the first time, the odds that he had recruited a young, impressionable soldier, who had remained friends with him for years, were extremely high, especially when considering his observation that Gatsby was a man of fine breeding (72).
Tom Buchanen confirms the reader’s suspicions of Gatsby’s illegal activities when he searches for the reason that...