It’s hard to imagine how a novel written in 1925 can still hold the attention of today’s world, but The Great Gatsby certainly delivers.
Even in today’s modern culture, you will find people talking about it, watching movies made from the book, and even using quotes from this celebrated novel.
While F. Scott Fitzgerald may not have envisioned this type of long-lasting effect, the fact remains that every chapter in this book holds at least one quote that is well-remembered and often used.
Let’s review the most poignant moments from each chapter of this great American novel.
- Related Topic: Jay Gatsby Important Quotes
3 Most Memorable Quotes from The Great Gatsby Chapter 1
Each chapter has its own unique quotes that people remember.
From Nick Carraway about Judging People
From the very first chapter, Fitzgerald invites the reader into the minds of his characters. Top quote from narrator Nick Carraway-
In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.
“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
It’s important to note this quote because it sets the stage for the remainder of the book. Nick is well-liked because he doesn’t judge. Well, not too much anyway.
- Related Post: F Scott Fitzgerald Quotes
From Nick Carraway about Gatsby
The second quote, also from Nick, explains his fondness for Gatsby-
When I came back from the East last autumn, I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart.
Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction—Gatsby who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn.
While this might seem as if Nick is talking out of both sides of his mouth, he isn’t. He originally had disdain for everything Gatsby believed in and represented, but he later saw that his original impression was incorrect.
From Daisy Buchanan about Her Hopes for Her Daughter
The last quote from this chapter is perhaps the saddest yet most often used quote from this book. It comes to us from Daisy- the fickle female who loves one man but clings to another.
“It’ll show you how I’ve gotten to feel about—things. Well, she was less than an hour old and Tom was God knows where. I woke up out of the ether with an utterly abandoned feeling, and asked the nurse right away if it was a boy or a girl.
She told me it was a girl, and so I turned my head away and wept. ‘All right,’ I said, ‘I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.'”
Daisy has every right to feel this way, considering the times she was living in, but her pitiful dreams for her daughter are quite sad.
3 Most Important Quotes from The Great Gatsby Chapter 2
In chapter 2 (learn more on The Great Gatsby Chapter 2 Summary ), we get a good look at Tom’s infidelity and his callousness towards women in general.
From Myrtle’s Sister
After picking up Tom’s mistress Myrtle in the Valley of Ashes ( read more on what is the valley of ashes in The Great Gatsby ), everyone meets at an apartment that Tom rents for his trysts. Myrtle’s sister explains the situation to Nick-
“You see,” cried Catherine triumphantly. She lowered her voice again. “It’s really his wife that’s keeping them apart. She’s a Catholic, and they don’t believe in divorce.”
Daisy was not a Catholic, and I was a little shocked at the elaborateness of the lie.
Tom creates this lie about Daisy as an excuse as to why he can’t divorce her and marry Myrtle.
- Related Post: Who Is Catherine From The Great Gatsby?
From Myrtle about Marrying George
Myrtle is not exactly a pillar of virtue herself, telling Nick-
“I married him (George) because I thought he was a gentleman… I thought he knew something about breeding, but he wasn’t fit to lick my shoe.”
From Nick about Tom Hitting Myrtle
Despite their financial differences, Tom and Myrtle seem to be well-suited for one another.
Some time toward midnight, Tom Buchanan and Mrs. Wilson stood face to face discussing, in impassioned voices, whether Mrs. Wilson had any right to mention Daisy’s name.
“Daisy! Daisy! Daisy!” shouted Mrs. Wilson. “I’ll say it whenever I want to! Daisy! Dai – “
Making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand.”
It makes you wonder why Myrtle kept on with Tom at all. It must have been his money and the dream that he would divorce Daisy one day.
3 Most Memorable Quotes from The Great Gatsby Chapter 3
Nick is invited to a party at Gatsby’s mansion. He appears to be the only person with an actual invitation.
From Nick about Gatsby’s Guests
“I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby’s house, I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited—they went there…
Sometimes they came and went without having met Gatsby at all, came for the party with a simplicity of heart that was its own ticket of admission.”
Of course, Gatsby has ulterior motives for inviting Nick, who was Daisy’s cousin.
From Nick about the Rumors Regarding Gatsby
While searching for Gatsby- Nick hears lots of rumors, including-
“Somebody told me they thought he killed a man once.”
A thrill passed over all of us. The three Mr. Mumbles bent forward and listened eagerly.
“I don’t think it’s so much THAT,” argued Lucille sceptically; “it’s more that he was a German spy during the war.”
One of the men nodded in confirmation.
“I heard that from a man who knew all about him, grew up with him in Germany,” he assured us positively.
“Oh, no,” said the first girl, “it couldn’t be that, because he was in the American army during the war.”
As our credulity switched back to her, she leaned forward with enthusiasm. “You look at him sometimes when he thinks nobody’s looking at him. I’ll bet he killed a man.”
From Nick about His First Impression of Gatsby
Finally, Nick meets Jay Gatsby, and he is impressed.
“He (Gatsby) smiled understandingly – much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life.
It faced – or seemed to face – the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.
It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”
Hearing the rumors and meeting the man seems to confuse Nick, who can’t reconcile the two.
As he stated in Chapter 1 ( see The Great Gatsby Chapter 1 Quotes ), however, Nick holds his judgment until he knows more.
3 Most Important Quotes from The Great Gatsby Chapter 4
From Nick about How Gatsby Describes Himself
Gatsby invites Nick to lunch in New York. As Gatsby drives like a madman, he starts to describe himself to Nick, who is even more confused by what he hears.
It was a photograph of half a dozen young men in blazers loafing in an archway through which were visible a host of spires. There was Gatsby, looking a little, not much, younger—with a cricket bat in his hand. Then it was all true…
“I’m going to make a big request of you to-day”, he said, “so I thought you ought to know something about me. I didn’t want you to think I was just some nobody.
You see, I usually find myself among strangers because I drift here and there trying to forget the sad thing that happened to me. You’ll hear about it this afternoon.”
From Meyer Wolfsheim as He Talks to Nick
Nick also meets Meyer Wolfsheim (read Meyer Wolfsheim Quotes ), Gatsby’s “partner in crime. Wolfsheim isn’t sure what to think of Nick, so he leaves him at lunch to talk to Gatsby.
“I belong to another generation… You sit… and discuss your sports and your young ladies… As for me, I am fifty years old, and I won’t impose myself on you any longer.”
From Jordan Baker about Tom’s Infidelity
Jordan Baker also sees Nick that evening. She explains not only what Gatsby wants Nick to do, but she talks about Tom’s infidelity.
“I saw them (Tom and Daisy) in Santa Barbara when they came back, and I thought I’d never seen a girl so mad about her husband. If he left the room for a minute she’d look around uneasily, and say: ‘Where’s Tom gone?’ and wear the most abstracted expression until she saw him coming in the door.
She used to sit on the sand with his head in her lap by the hour, rubbing her fingers over his eyes and looking at him with unfathomable delight. It was touching to see them together – it made you laugh in a hushed, fascinated way.
That was in August. A week after I left Santa Barbara, Tom ran into a wagon on the Ventura road one night, and ripped a front wheel off his car.
The girl who was with him got into the papers, too, because her arm was broken – she was one of the chambermaids in the Santa Barbara Hotel.”
Nick is already aware of Myrtle, but this gives him further insight into his cousin’s marriage, which has been a fraud from the beginning. Read more Chapter 4 Quotes here.
3 Most Important Quotes from The Great Gatsby Chapter 5
Gatsby is going to finally meet Daisy at Nick’s house in this chapter.
From Jay Gatsby Explaining How He Became Rich
Before Gatsby and Daisy finally meet, Gatsby’s slips up with a lie he had told Nick earlier.
“I thought you inherited your money.”
“I did, old sport,” he said automatically, “but I lost most of it in the big panic – the panic of the war.”
I think he hardly knew what he was saying, for when I asked him what business he was in he answered, “That’s my affair,” before he realized that it wasn’t the appropriate reply.
“Oh, I’ve been in several things,” he corrected himself. “I was in the drug business and then I was in the oil business. But I’m not in either one now.”
This semi-truth impresses Nick, who now thinks that Gatsby is more honest than most of the rich people he’s met at these parties.
From Nick about Daisy and Gatsby’s First Meeting
Daisy and Gatsby finally meet, and Nick can’t stop watching this couple as they are enthralled with one another.
“They were sitting at either end of the couch looking at each other as if some question had been asked or was in the air, and every vestige of embarrassment was gone.
Daisy’s face was smeared with tears and when I came in she jumped up and began wiping at it with her handkerchief before a mirror. But there was a change in Gatsby that was simply confounding.
He literally glowed; without a word or a gesture of exultation a new well-being radiated from him and filled the little room.”
It’s easy to see that Gatsby is still hopelessly in love with Daisy, and Daisy appears to be shocked that Gatsby is back in her life again.
From Nick about Gatsby Losing His Dream
Gatsby, however, in attaining Daisy may have lost the dream he lived for. The green light on the end of Daisy’s dock has changed forever.
“Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her.
It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one.”
It’s interesting how one must give up something for everything that is gained.
3 Most Important Quotes from The Great Gatsby Chapter 6
From Nick about Gatsby and Daisy’s First Kiss
Gatsby finally tells Nick the truth about his beginnings and how he met Daisy, including their very first kiss.
“His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God.
So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.”
- Related Post: Read Chapter 6 Summary of The Great Gatsby
From Nick about What Gatsby Wanted Daisy to Tell Tom
In this chapter, Gatsby also makes it clear to Nick that he wants Daisy to leave Tom, divorce him, and marry Gatsby, as if the last 5 years had never happened.
He (Gatsby) wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should go to Tom and say: ‘I never loved you.’ After she had obliterated four years with that sentence they could decide upon the more practical measures to be taken.
One of them was that, after she was free, they were to go back to Louisville and be married from her house – just as if it were five years ago.
From Tom to Nick about Gatsby
Tom, however, is starting to get a glimpse of Gatsby and he doesn’t like what he sees. Tom tells Nick-
“My God, I believe the man’s coming,” said Tom… “I wonder where in the devil he met Daisy. By God, I may be old-fashioned in my ideas, but women run around too much these days to suit me. They meet all kinds of crazy fish.”
Tom is the ultimate hypocrite, upset that his wife may have met a man but believing that his multiple affairs are perfectly fine.
7 Most Memorable Quotes from The Great Gatsby Chapter 7
This chapter has so much in it that we need to include more than 3 quotes.
Gatsby is now waiting for Daisy to announce that she’s leaving Tom, but Daisy can’t quite bring herself to do it.
Tom Interrogating Gatsby about Being an Oxford Man
At a get-together at Daisy and Tom’s mansion, Tom tries to show everyone that Gatsby is “new money” that he earned illegally.
Daisy won’t have it, and Jay Gatsby, realizing that Tom has been investigating him, tells the truth for once.
“By the way, Mr. Gatsby, I understand you’re an Oxford man.”
“Oh, yes, I understand you went to Oxford.”
“Yes – I went there.”
Pause. Then Tom’s voice, incredulous and insulting: “You must have gone there about the time Biloxi went to New Haven.”
Another pause. A waiter knocked and came in with crushed mint and ice, but the silence was unbroken by his ‘thank you’ and the soft closing of the door. This tremendous detail was to be cleared up at last.
“I told you I went there,” said Gatsby.
“I heard you, but I’d like to know when.”
“It was in nineteen-nineteen, I only stayed five months. That’s why I can’t really call myself an Oxford man.”
From Gatsby as He Tells Tom What He Wanted Daisy to Say
In an attempt to do what Daisy can’t seem to bring herself to do, Gatsby says what he wishes Daisy would.
“Your wife doesn’t love you,” said Gatsby. “She’s never loved you. She loves me.”
From Tom as He Explodes in Anger
Tom can’t believe what he is hearing. He loses his cool and admits to his infidelity.
“You’re crazy!” he exploded. “I can’t speak about what happened five years ago because I didn’t know Daisy then – and I’ll be damned if I see how you got within a mile of her unless you brought the groceries to the back door.
But all the rest of that’s a God damned lie. Daisy loved me when she married me and she loves me now.”
He nodded sagely. “And what’s more, I love Daisy too. Once in a while I go off on a spree and make a fool of myself, but I always come back, and in my heart I love her all the time.”
From Daisy Reacting to Tom’s Admission of His Affairs
Hearing Tom say this out loud disgusts and embarrasses Daisy, who retorts:
“You’re revolting,” said Daisy. She turned to me (Nick), and her voice, dropping an octave lower, filled the room with thrilling scorn:
“Do you know why we left Chicago? I’m surprised that they didn’t treat you to the story of that little spree.”
Tom believes that Daisy sees Gatsby for what he is- a nobody. He insists that the two drive home together in Gatsby’s car.
Tom most likely agrees to this because he thinks they will argue, and that will be the end of his wife’s affair.
From Nick about the Death Car
On the return trip, Tom stops the car because there is a commotion in the street. He quickly discovers that his mistress, Myrtle, has been killed by a hit-and-run driver. The car described is Gatsby’s.
“The ‘death car’ as the newspapers called it, didn’t stop; it came out of the gathering darkness, wavered tragically for a moment and then disappeared around the next bend.”
From Gatsby about What Really Happened During the Accident that Killed Myrtle
Nick is initially disgusted with Gatsby until Gatsby lets him in a little secret- it was Daisy who was driving.
“Yes,” he said after a moment, “but of course I’ll say I was (driving). You see, when we left New York she was very nervous and she thought it would steady her to drive – and this woman rushed out at us just as we were passing a car coming the other way.
It all happened in a minute, but it seemed to me that she wanted to speak to us, thought we were somebody she knew.
Well, first Daisy turned away from the woman toward the other car, and then she lost her nerve and turned back. The second my hand reached the wheel I felt the shock – it must have killed her instantly.”
From Nick about Daisy and Tom Conspiring Together
Nick comes to see that Gatsby’s love is very real. Nick decides to check on Daisy, and he is shocked by what he finds.
“Daisy and Tom were sitting opposite each other at the kitchen table… They weren’t happy…yet they weren’t unhappy either. There was an unmistakable air of natural intimacy about the picture, and anybody would have said that they were conspiring together.”
Whether Daisy tells Tom that she was driving or not, the fact is that this couple WAS conspiring to figure out what to do next.
3 Most Memorable Quotes from The Great Gatsby Chapter 8
From Gatsby about Daisy’s Love for Him
Gatsby is confused by the way Daisy is acting. He tries to convince himself that she still loves him by telling Nick-
“I don’t think she ever loved him.’ Gatsby turned around from a window and looked at me challengingly.
‘You must remember, old sport, she was very excited this afternoon. He told her those things in a way that frightened her – that made it look as if I was some kind of cheap sharper. And the result was she hardly knew what she was saying.’
He sat down gloomily.
‘Of course she might have loved him just for a minute, when they were first married – and loved me more even then, do you see?”
From Nick about Gatsby and George’s Deaths
Nick leaves for work but can’t seem to focus. He calls Gatsby’s house repeatedly until a servant answers and tells him the grim news.
“There was a faint, barely perceptible movement of the water as the fresh flow from one end urged its way toward the drain at the other with little ripples that were hardly the shadows of waves, the laden mattress moved irregularly down the pool.
A small gust of wind that scarcely corrugated the surface was enough to disturb its accidental course with its accidental burden. The touch of a cluster of leaves revolved it slowly, tracing, like the leg of compass, a thin red circle in the water.”
George shoots Gatsby, believing that he had killed his wife. Unable to live with his thoughts, George then kills himself.
From Meyer Wolfsheim as He Refuses to Attend Gatsby’s Funeral
Nick finally meets Gatsby’s father, who comes to say goodbye to his son. Nick so admires Gatsby that he can’t understand why no one wants to come to the funeral. Even Gatsby’s partner, Meyer Wolfsheim, tells Nick-
“When a man gets killed I never like to get mixed up in it in any way. I keep out. When I was a young man it was different… I stuck with them to the end… Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead.”
Nick is both confused and upset that Daisy doesn’t even send flowers. It’s as if Gatsby never existed.
From Nick as He Thinks about the End of Gatsby’s Life and Dreams
Nick starts to wonder how Gatsby must have felt before he was shot-
“He must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream. He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass.
A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about… like that ashen, fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous trees.”
What a terribly sad ending to a man’s dreams of a beautiful life with the woman he loved.
3 Most Important Quotes from The Great Gatsby Chapter 9
Although Nick tries to convince people to attend the funeral, no one other than Owl Eyes, some servants, and Gatsby’s father attends.
From Nick about Daisy’s Disappearance after Gatsby’s Death
Even Daisy, who claimed to love Gatsby, disappears.
“I called up Daisy half an hour after we found him, called her instinctively and without hesitation. But she and Tom had gone away early that afternoon, and taken baggage with them.’
‘Left no address?’
‘Say when they’d be back?’
‘Any idea where they are? How I could reach them?’
‘I don’t know. Can’t say.”
From Nick about His Disgust of Daisy and People Like Her
Nick is disgusted by everyone from the east coast. He can’t believe how people are used and then thrown away like so much trash.
“And as I sat there, brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock.
He had come such a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close he could hardly fail to grasp it.
But what he did not know was that it was already behind him, somewhere in the vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.”
While the green light on the dock represents the American Dream, one can’t help but feel tremendous sadness for a man who had spent his entire life in search of a dream, only to be crushed in the process.
From Nick about Elusive Dreams and How We Keep On
The book ends with this infamous line:
“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… And one fine morning–
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”
Rowing against the tide, humans keep on trying their best, not realizing that they will never reach their goal.
Final Analysis – What Is the Most Famous Quote in The Great Gatsby?
Now we understand that The Great Gatsby is about the American Dream and how people literally chase it till their deaths.
Curiously, not once is the phrase “American dream” mentioned in the whole novel. Not a single instance.
So where in The Great Gatsby does F. Scott Fitzgerald talk about the American dream?
In Chapter 6 ( read The Great Gatsby Chapter 6 Quotes ) , we learned how James Gatz used his humble beginnings as a launch pad to becoming the “successful” Jay Gatsby – not without a great deal of struggle and reinventing, of course.
Yet, Gatsby’s struggles did not end there. Just when he thought he had it all figured out, everything came crashing down on him, preventing him from fully attaining his dream.
Just as F. Scott Fitzgerald eloquently says in his most famous quote:
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
Written by Kerry Wisby – GatsbyFlapperGirl.com
Owner & Founder of GatsbyFlapperGirl.com
Kerry Wisby, a former teacher with a BA in English, is the founder of GatsbyFlapperGirl.com. With a passion for all things 1920s, including The Great Gatsby novel, her website is the ultimate source for Roaring Twenties fashion, history, and party ideas. Read more about Kerry here.