Best things in life: books, beaches, cats, chocolate, sunsets, sleep
I read The Great Gatsby many years ago, probably in my late teens or early twenties. And I have to say that I remembered virtually nothing about this book. Jay Gatsby - rich young socialite, obsessed with some woman, not sure of her name. Narrated by some male character. This is all I could remember. So I was right about those things, but it was definitely time to reread this classic and I'm glad I did.
Of course, like most everyone else, I disliked most of the characters. They are rich, young, self-absorbed people. All they want to do is party. Yes, Nick works in the city as a bond broker, but he doesn't really have to. He just wanted to make his own way in the world rather than depending on his family's money. He is probably the least objectionable character in the book but that isn't all that hard since everyone else is easy to dislike. Even Tom's girlfriend, who is not at all rich, doesn't really care about anything except having a good time regardless of who she hurts.
Tom and Daisy truly deserve each other. He cheats on her and acts as if it doesn't mean anything. She doesn't really want to leave him, she just wants him to stop his little flings. That's why she takes back up with Gatsby, to get back at Tom. It's pretty much a game to both of them. And Jay Gatsby is the one to pay the price.
And of course Gatsby is just a big fraud. He is rich from illegal activities and throws parties for huge groups of people he doesn't even know. All to see if Daisy will ever show up and he can get her back. Then when she does show up, the reality of Daisy doesn't match the five-year fantasy of Daisy. It probably wouldn't have lasted if they had gotten together because he had built her up in his imagination to something she couldn't be. However, even though he is a fraud, he truly loves Daisy and wants to be with her and protect her. He pays the ultimate price in protecting her since he won't let anyone know that she was driving the car when Myrtle was killed.
We aren't meant to like all the characters, we are only meant to see how flawed they all are. Fitzgerald does an amazing job of depicting the phoniness and greed of the era. And how the lives of the newly rich were terribly different from those with the established wealth. Jay Gatsby was rich but really had no class. He wore tacky clothes and had ostentatious furnishings while Daisy and Tom wore understated clothing and had a tastefully furnished house. No one was really friends with Gatsby, they just used him to have a good time. Tom and Daisy would never have let themselves be used in quite that way.
There are so many things to say about this novel that have been said quite well by others. Whether you end up loving it or hating it, it is well worth reading.