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What Was Jay Gatsby’s Real Name & Background?

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Jay Gatsby’s real name is James Gatz. He was the son of a poor farmer from North Dakota. Gatsby (or Gatz, to be exact) did not come from San Francisco, as he claimed. He attended St Olaf’s College, which was not a lie. However, he dropped out two years later and decided to make a name for himself.

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The Great Gatsby may be one of the most popular and well-loved works of American fiction. It is considered a classic and a touchstone for generations of imaginative readers. The story follows the lives of four wealthy characters. Their shenanigans are narrated by their mutual acquaintance, Nick Carraway. However, the focus of the novel is the tragic love story of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. Jay’s motivation for throwing lavish parties is to attract the attention of Daisy. Although Daisy is married and has kids with another man, Jay does not stop his quest to win his first love back.

Jay Gatsby has masterfully constructed a new identity for himself. He claims that he is from a wealthy family in San Francisco. He also assures everyone that he has studied at Oxford. In chapter 4, Gatsby invites Nick to have lunch in New York, where he reveals new details about ‘his’ background. He tells Nick that he has served in the army during World War I.

Jay’s original background is revealed much later in the book. Readers find out that Jay’s full name is James Gatz. Jay decides to change it at the age of seventeen. Furthermore, Gatsby does not come from San Francisco, but rather North Dakota. His father was a poor farmer and not a wealthy business mogul. In chapter 6, Nick finds out how Gatsby has learned the manners of the rich and powerful. He did it by observing his former boss, Dan Cody. Dan was a wealthy mining prospector that decided to employ Jay after Gatsby saved him during a storm.

Jay’s real biography takes a couple of twists and turns. After Cody’s death, Jay enlists in the military. He meets Daisy in Louisville before getting shipped off to serve in Europe. There is no chance anyone can tell if he is a rich man in his uniform. Daisy assumes Gatsby is of the same social class as her due to his manners. Daisy was born into wealth. Jay even describes her voice as “full of money.” He decides to keep the facade for the sake of romance. When Gatsby leaves for war, Daisy promises to wait for him.

Gatsby was in the war and got an officer title due to his accomplishments. He then decides to attend Oxford through a program for officers. However, it only lasts five months. By the time he returns to America, Daisy has married Tom Buchanan. Jay decides to do everything he can to win her back. Through Meyer Wolfsheim, Gatsby gets into shady business. Later, he buys a mansion in West Egg, a Rolls Royce, and throws extravagant parties to attract Daisy’s attention. That is how readers are introduced to Gatsby’s character through the eyes of Nick Carraway.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'What Was Jay Gatsby's Real Name & Background'. 23 October.

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