Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby has endured as a classic glimpse into a period of time that is now referred to as the Roaring 20s - an American decade marked by extravagance, self-gratification and indifference. As Americans strove to find and claim for themselves a piece of what they considered to be the "American Dream", they inevitably got lost in the process, and Fitzgerald created several poignant and distinct characters in The Great Gatsby who epitomized the era and his beliefs in how the era affected people.
On its simplest level, The Great Gatsby is Nick Carraway's narration and recollection of events stemming from his meeting and subsequent interaction with Jay Gatsby during the summer of 1922 in Long Island, New York. Nick Carraway, too, was seeking his piece of the American Dream by moving to New York from the Midwest to take job as a bond salesman " I decided to go east and learn the bond business. Everyone I knew was in the bond business- (p. 7). However, Nick is only person pursuing a better and larger life who doesn't get caught up in the shallow, materialistic notions of most people doing the same thing. For instance, Nick ends up renting a house in West Egg that is "a weather beaten cardboard bungalow at eighty a month" and is " squeezed between two huge places that rented for twelve or fifteen thousand a season." (pp. 8-9). Nick's next door neighbor is Jay Gatsby.
Nick's "second cousin once removed" was Daisy Buchanan who lived with her husband Tom in East Egg, just "[a]cross the courtesy bay" from West Egg (p. 10). After getting settled, Nick visits the Buchanans and meets Daisy Buchanan "whom I scarcely knew at all" (p. 11) and Daisy's friend, Jordan Baker. Nick's impression of these two women in particular, as well as the others he encounters during his brief stay in New York, are noteworthy in that they demonstrate the vapidity and emptiness of the wealthy and socially connected crowd during that time.