Nick Carraway: Nick provides the voice of the novel, documenting his companions exploits in the summer of 1922. Raised in a wealthy
middle-western family, Nick graduates from New Haven, the college he attended with Tom Buchanan. After serving in World War I, Nick -- at age 29 -- moves east to learn the bond business, and becomes involved with the affairs comprising The Great Gatsby. Eventually, Nick acts as a liaison between Gatsby and Daisy, setting up the infamous first reunion at his house. Despite repeatedly insisting that he prides himself on his own honesty, Nick continually aligns himself with next-door-neighbor Gatsby -- whose entire existence is a fabrication -- remaining loyal to his friend throughout the second half of the novel.
Jay Gatsby: The invented identity of James Gatz, born the son of poor middle-western farmers, Gatsby "sprang from his Platonic conception of himself" (104). Gatsby's beginnings occurred when the 17-year-old Gatz -- a clam digger and salmon fisher -- sees millionaire Dan Cody's yacht drop anchor on a dangerous stretch of Lake Superior.
After rowing out to Cody on a borrowed row-boat and warning him that a coming wind might wreck his yacht, Cody employs Jay Gatsby in a "vague personal capacity" (106) for several years. Later, Gatsby says he worked in the drugstore and oil businesses, omitting the fact that he was involved in illegal bootlegging. Gatsby keeps his criminal activities mysterious throughout the novel, preferring to play the role of perpetually gracious host. Gatsby buys his West Egg mansion with the sole intention of being across the bay from Daisy Buchanan's green light at the end of her dock, a fantasy which becomes Gatsby's personal version of the American Dream. With an Oxford education as part of his invented persona, Gatsby ceaselessly uses his favorite...