'The Great Gatsby' Study Questions

Points for Discussing F. Scott Fitzgerald's Famous Jazz Age Novel

The Gatsby
Ravena July / Getty Images

"The Great Gatsby" is American author F. Scott Fitzgerald's most famous novel. The story, a symbolic portrayal of the decline of the American Dream, is an accurate depiction of the Jazz Age that cemented Fitzgerald as a fixture in literary history. Fitzgerald is a master storyteller who layers his novels with themes and symbolism.

Study Questions

Here are some questions around which to build a lively discussion for your next book club meeting:

  • What is important about the title of "The Great Gatsby?"
  • Which adaptations of the novel have you seen? What did you think of them?
  • What are the conflicts in "The Great Gatsby"? What types of conflicts—physical, moral, intellectual, or emotional—figure in this novel? Are they resolved?
  • Why is Gatsby unable to put the past behind him? Why does he demand that Daisy renounce her former love for her husband?
  • What choice would you have made in Daisy's situation?
  • What role does Daisy play in Gatsby's downfall?
  • How is alcohol used in the novel?
  • Why do you think the author chose to tell the story from the perspective of Nick, a friend of Gatsby?
  • How does Fitzgerald reveal character in "The Great Gatsby?"
  • How is class depicted in the novel? What point is the author trying to make?
  • What are some themes and symbols in "The Great Gatsby?"
  • What does the green light represent?
  • Why does the author call our attention to the billboard advertising Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, an optometrist? What is the meaning of the vacant eyes that watch the characters?
  • Is Gatsby consistent in his actions? Why did he change his name? Do you ever find him fake or contrived? Is he a fully developed character?
  • Do you consider Gatsby to be a "self-made man"? Is he a good portrayal of achieving the American Dream?
  • Do you find the characters likable? Would you want to meet them?
  • Did the novel end the way you expected?
  • How essential is the setting? Could the story have taken place anywhere else or at any other time?
  • What do you think the lavish parties at Gatsby's mansion were meant to represent? What is the author trying to say about American culture?
  • What is the role of women in "The Great Gatsby?" Is love relevant? Are relationships meaningful?
  • What do you think about Daisy's assessment that women must be pretty but unintelligent if they want to be happy? What in her life led her to this conclusion?
  • Why is "The Great Gatsby" controversial? Why has it been banned/challenged?
  • How does religion figure into the novel? How would the novel be different if religion or spirituality played a more prominent role in the text?
  • How does "The Great Gatsby" relate to current society? How well did it represent the Jazz Age (society and literature) at the time it was published? Is the novel still relevant?
  • Would you recommend "The Great Gatsby" to a friend?