Seventeen-year-old James Gatz, who hails from North Dakota where he was born to a poor family in 1890, despises the imprecations of poverty so much he drops out of St. Olaf College in Minnesota only a few weeks after starting, due to his shame of having to work as a janitor to support himself through college. After reinventing his birth names as Jay Gatsby, he reunites with mentor Dan Cody, a copper tycoon who invites him to join his ten-year yacht trek from Girl Bay. Over the next five years, Gatsby learns the ways of the wealthy until Cody’s death. Gatsby soon is cheated out of a $25,000 bequest meant for him by Cody’s mistress.
In 1917, during his training to join the infantry in preparation to join World War I, 27-year-old Gatsby meets and falls in love with 18-year-old Daisy Fay, who is everything he is not: rich and from a patrician East Coast family.
During the war, he reaches the rank of Major, commands the heavy machine guns of his regiment, and is decorated for valor for his participation in the Marne and the Argonne. He then attends Trinity College, Oxford. While there, he receives a letter from Daisy, telling him that she has married the equally aristocratic Tom Buchanan. Gatsby then decides to commit his life to becoming a man of wealth and stature that he believes would win Daisy’s love.1
Gatsby returns home to America that’s been transformed by the Prohibition, a period in American history when gangsters were able to earn vast wealth and sometimes mix with the connected upper classes; an era in which “all the old boundaries that separated the classes were being broken, and a new wave of instant millionaires, like Gatsby himself… mingled with the polo-players who inhabited the stiff enclaves of the established rich of Long Island’s Gold Coast.” by making a fortune from bootlegging, thanks to his association with various gangsters such as Meyer Wolfsheim the man who fixed the World’s Series back in 1919."
With his vast income readily available, Gatsby purchases a 12-bedroom mansion in West Egg Long Island, located on the opposite of a lake from East Egg, where Daisy Buchanan, her husband Tom and three-year-old daughter live. While at his West Egg mansion, Gatsby hosts a weekend-long party every weekend, open to all comers, while nursing a hope that Daisy will be among the party guests from East Egg. She’s never there.