is the titular character
of F. Scott Fitzgerald
's 1925 novel The Great Gatsby
. The character has become an archetype of self-made American men seeking to join high society
, and the name has become synonymous with successful businessmen with shady pasts in the US.
James Gatz, a bright young man from a poor family in North Dakota, despised the imprecations of poverty so much he dropped out of St. Olaf College
in Minnesota after only a few weeks because of his shame at the janitorial job he had to take to pay his way. Renaming himself Jay Gatsby, he learns the ways of the wealthy while working for a copper tycoon named Dan Cody, but upon Cody's death is cheated out of a $25,000 bequest by Cody's mistress. While training in 1917 to join the infantry and fight in World War I
he meets and promptly falls in love with the beautiful Daisy, who represents everything he is not: she is rich, and she is from a patrician East Coast family.
During the war he reaches the rank of Major, commands the heavy machine guns of his regiment, and is decorated "for valour" for his participation in the bloody battles of Marne
. After the war, he supposedly attends Trinity College, Oxford
, but he lies throughout the story that he did. While there he receives a letter from Daisy telling him she has married the equally aristocratic Tom Buchanan. Rather than admit defeat, he commits his life to becoming a man of the sort of wealth and stature he... Read More