The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, seems to be on everyone’s short list of “Great American Novels.” And not because its title includes the word “Great.” There’s just something about Fitzgerald’s story of money and madness, greed, revenge, and lust that’s peculiarly … well, American.
Maybe it’s Jay Gatsby—in his pink suit on the lawn of his sprawling West Egg mansion—desperate for the respectability that money can’t buy. Maybe it’s Nick, Gatsby’s narrator, desperate for the money that respectability doesn’t always bring. Or perhaps it’s Daisy, caught between her hankering for money and her desire for respectability.
In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald’s characters share a common trait—a restlessness, a continual striving for something just-out-of-reach. Of course, restlessness fuels America, and always has. But by the end of The Great Gatsby, Nick and Daisy and Gatsby learn that some things are best kept beyond one’s reach.