(PS. There are a few spoilers in this post about The Great Gatsby and .)
While reading The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, I’ve been constantly changing my mind about liking or disliking various characters. I think that’s part of the goal of the book though; Fitzgerald wants you to see these people as real people who have their good and bad moments.
The hard part of making opinions on these characters is that I can’t personally relate to most of them, and I know this book only captures some crumbs of their life story.
The character I found most interesting was Mr. Gatsby himself. I think I found him interesting for the exact reason that Fitzgerald wants you to find him interesting: he’s full of mystery. His life story practically changes every time it gets talked about.
When first meeting Gatsby, Nick doesn’t even realize that he is talking to Gatsby. Then when Gatsby walks off Nick tries to ask Jordan about who he is, but Jordan’s response is simply, “He’s just a mad named Gatsby,” because she doesn’t believe the story she was told (Fitzgerald 48). No one knows the true story of Gatsby. It isn’t until chapter 6 that Nick finally discusses the true story of Gatsby, who’s real name is actually James Gatz, and he doesn’t even actually learn that story until close to the end of Gatsby’s life. (Not going to lie, but I didn’t fully understand that they were the same person until a good few pages later.)
What I realized is that the mysterious character of Gatsby it common in many books. Most notably it reminded me of Boo Radley from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Both characters are very closed off with a constantly debated and gossiped past. In fact many people suspect them of murder or some other horrible crime.
However, these mysterious characters somehow always manage to be a huge part of the main character’s lives by the end of the story. Gatsby dies and Nick seems to be his only friend to plan the funeral, and Boo saves Scott’s life. We learn that the characters that once seemed dangerous and unknown are, in reality, just complex people that you have to get to know well in order to understand them.
I think humans have a certain fondness towards mystery and particularly towards mysterious people. It’s our natural instinct to be curious that makes us enjoy the mysteries of life.