Like this study set? Create a free account to save it.

Sign up for an account

Already have a Quizlet account? .

Create an account

The Great Gatsby Key Character quotes

The Great Gatsby


Nick Carraway as an ambivalent narrator

"I bought a dozen volumes on banking and credit an investment securities, and they stood on my shelf in red and gold like new money from the mint, promising to unfold the shining secrets that only Midas and Morgan and Maecenas knew"

Midas, Morgan and Maecenas

1) (Greek legend) the greedy king of Phrygia who Dionysus gave the power to turn everything he touched into gold
2) United States financier and philanthropist (1837-1913)
3) A wealthy Roman patron of the Arts and literature

Nick as an ambivalent character

• "Within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life"
•"Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.
• "Reserving judgements is a matter of infinite hope"

• "I mean it was careless of me to make such a wrong guess. I thought you were rather an honest, straightforward person." - Jordan Baker

Nick's ambivalence towards Gatsby/Eastern lifestyle

• "Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn"
• "there was something gorgeous about him"

Nick's tendency to Romanticise

"He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is"

The Moment in which Daisy becomes the embodiment of all of Gatsby's aspirations and dreams

• "He knew that when he kissed this girl and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips' touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete"
• "He had committed himself to the following of a grail"

The green light

• "a single green light, minute and faraway, that might have been the end of a dock."
• "He stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was fro him, I could have sworn he was trembling. "
• "The colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one."

Gatsby as a dreamer

• "an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness"
• "ghostly heart"
• "appalling sentimentality"
• "paid a high price for living too long with a single dream"
• "Can't repeat the past?... Why of course you can!"
• "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us."

Gatsby as creator

"His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people--his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all. The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God... and he must be about His Father's business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen year old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end."

The Buchanans, and by extension the rich

"drifted here and there unrestfully wherever people were rich and played polo together"
"It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy-they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money of their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made"


• "impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire"
• "her voice was full of money"
• "making only a polite pleasant effort to entertain or to be entertained"


"Tom Buchanan in riding clothes was standing with his legs apart on the front porch"
"a sturdy straw-haired man of thirty, with a rather hard mouth and a supericilious manner ... two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face"
"a cruel body"
'Tom would drift on forever seeking, a little wistfully, for the dramatic turbulence of some irrevocable football game"
"he was walking infront of me...his alert, agressive way...his head moveing sharply here and there, adapting itself to his restless eyes"

Jordan Baker

"And I like large parties. They're so intimate. At small parties there isn't any privacy."
"It takes two to make an accident"
"her chin raised a little jauntily"

Driving motif

"I am slow-thinking and full of interior rules that act as brakes on my desires
"You said a bad driver was only safe until she met another bad driver? Well, I met another bad driver, didn't I?"
"You ought to be more careful, or you oughtn't to drive at all"
"It takes two to make an accident"
"So we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight"

Mr Wilson

"that ashen, fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous trees."
"as If he were a ghost"
"mingling immediately with the cement colour of the walls"
"white ashen dust veiled his dark suit and his pale hair as it veiled everything in the vicinity"

Myrtle Wilson

"thickish figure of a woman ... in the middle thirties"
"she carried her flesh sensuously as some women can"
"there was an immediately perceptible vitality about her as if the nerves of her body were continually smouldering"

The Valley of Ashes

"A fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air"

The death of the dream

The colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one."

Please allow access to your computer’s microphone to use Voice Recording.

Having trouble? Click here for help.

We can’t access your microphone!

Click the icon above to update your browser permissions and try again


Reload the page to try again!


Press Cmd-0 to reset your zoom

Press Ctrl-0 to reset your zoom

It looks like your browser might be zoomed in or out. Your browser needs to be zoomed to a normal size to record audio.

Please upgrade Flash or install Chrome
to use Voice Recording.

For more help, see our troubleshooting page.

Your microphone is muted

For help fixing this issue, see this FAQ.

Star this term

You can study starred terms together

Voice Recording