What Does Gatsby Tell Nick About Himself And His Past?

Updated 30 September, 2023
After Gatsby and Nick meet, Gatsby tells Nick a fake story about his past, describing his wealthy family, prestigious education, and incredible journeys. However, Nick has doubts about the credibility of these stories.
Detailed answer:

While on the road to New York, Gatsby tells Nick about his past; he comes from a Midwestern wealthy family from San Francisco in which he inherited 'a good deal of money' after his family died. He adds that he attended Oxford University as a family tradition and with his fortune, he traveled throughout “capitals of Europe — Paris, Venice, Rome — collecting jewels, chiefly rubies, hunting big game, painting a little, things for myself only,” trying to escape a sad, sad memory. Gatsby’s speech about himself arose doubt and curiosity in Nick as his story was quite far-fetched. He questions Gatsby’s credibility seeing that he wasn’t comfortable talking about his past and seemed to hide an important aspect of it. Afterwards, he introduces Nick to Mr. Wolfshiem, which rises suspensions about his fortune and his shady business dealings handled under tables.
While conversing with Nick and Wolfsheim, Gatsby begins to become hesitant during his recollection of the past. This can be seen when Nick says “He hurried the phrase “educated at Oxford,” or swallowed it, or choked on it, as though it had bothered him before. And with this doubt, his whole statement fell to pieces, and I wondered if there wasn’t something a little sinister about him, after all”. While speaking of his made-up past, Nick begins to find flaws in his story which begin to raise his suspicions about Gatsby. This foreshadows Nick discovering the truth about Gatsby’s past before he became the infamous Mr.Gatsby.
Finally, Gatsby shows his true metal and reveals the truth about his background after he gains Nick’s trust. James Gatz changed his name to Jay Gatsby when he was about 17 years old introducing this young lad into a bright, glorious career. On this day, he was at the beach and came to see a yacht named “TUOLOMEE” drop anchor on Lake Superior. He borrowed a rowboat and went out to warn the owner of the yacht that “a wind might catch him and break him up in half an hour.” The owner was Dan Cody, a millionaire who took Gatz’s warning for granted by making him his “steward, mate, skipper, secretary, and even jailor”. From there he began his journey of wealth and luxury and it was all part of his American dream to break the boundaries of reality.

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