Nick Carraway is the narrator and moral center of the novel. He was brought up in the Midwest, attended college with Tom at Yale, and moved to New York to become a bondsman. As the story begins, Nick sees himself as one who reserves making personal judgements on others. By the stories end, Nick alone has grown as a character, and finds himself making moral judgements on those around him. He is a distant cousin to Daisy.
Jay Gatsby is the son of a farmer who amasses much wealth in order to win back the love of Daisy. He was born James Gatz, but changed his name to Jay Gatsby when he was 17. He is a bootlegger and Nick’s neighbor. Gatsby’s entire life is devoted to his dream of acquiring the love of Daisy. Gatsby’s dream seems to parallel the American dream. He believes that if he has enough money then youth, beauty, time, and love can be his. In the end, Gatsby has not grown at all, and is destroyed by his utter devotion to a single dream.
Daisy Buchanan is the distant cousin of Nick, and the wife of Tom. She was Gatsby’s girl before he left for the war, but married Tom while he was away. Daisy is seen as a beautiful, yet empty woman. While Gatsby seems blinded by her beauty, Nick distrusts her. She is the mother of a young girl who only briefly appears in the story. She accidently kills Myrtle, her husband's mistress.
Tom Buchanan is a strong, hard-drinking, and wealthy man who spends his time having extra-marital affairs. He attended Yale where he was a football star and classmate of Nick, though the two were not good friends. He is having an affair with Myrtle.
Jordan Baker is a childhood friend of Daisy’s, and becomes involved with Nick during the course of the novel. She is attractive, aggressive, and dishonest. A professional golfer who was accused of cheating at a tournament.
Myrtle Wilson is George’s wife, and the mistress of Tom. Myrtle is accidently killed by Daisy.
George Wilson is the owner of a gas station, in the valley of ashes, which many of the central characters frequent. George is a spiritless man who kills Gatsby and then commits suicide.
Meyer Wolfsheim supposedly rigged the 1919 World Series. It is through Meyer that Gatsby has become involved in shady business dealings and acquired his great wealth.
Dan Cody was a wealthy man who took Gatsby under his wing. It is through his association with Cody, that James Gatz becomes Jay Gatsby.
Owl-Eyes is the only one of Gatsby's party guests to attend his funeral. He seems to understand Gatsby better then most of the other characters in the novel.