The Great Gatsby: Why It’s Banned and What You Need to Know

The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and published in 1925, is a story of America in the 1920s.

The Great Gatsby is a banned book due to its language and sexual references.

This classic tale is told by Nick Carraway. Nick is a young Yale graduate who moves to New York and rents a house in the West Egg district of Long Island.

Nick’s house is located between two very large homes. The one on his right is a huge and elaborate mansion.  Lavish parties with hundreds of people coming and going at all hours of the night are held there on a regular basis.

One day, Nick gets an invitation to one of these parties. He decides to attend, and soon finds that his new neighbor is the mysterious and wealthy Jay Gatsby.

Nick and Gatsby become friends, and Nick eventually learns of Gatsby’s long-time love for Daisy Buchanan, who is a cousin of Nick’s.  Nick already knows that Daisy’s husband, Tom, is having an affair with a married woman, Myrtle Wilson.

Gatsby wants Nick to arrange a meeting so that he can see Daisy. Nick finally agrees, and invites Daisy to tea at his home.

The Great Gatsby (Vintage Classics)
  • Fitzgerald, F. Scott (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 192 Pages - 01/05/2021 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

Banned for profanity and sexuality, this book was first challenged at the Baptist College in Charleston, South Carolina in 1987 for “language and sexual references in the book”.

Banned in a college? Even though it’s a religious college, shouldn’t students of that age be old enough to choose for themselves what to read and not read?

Besides that, this story makes it clear that the lifestyle choices and on-going deceit of the characters did not lead to a happy ending.

Couldn’t there be a lesson in here somewhere?

Despite its eventual success and status as a classic, The Great Gatsby was initially a commercial failure, selling poorly and receiving mixed reviews.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a classic American novel that explores themes of wealth, love, and the pursuit of the American Dream. Despite its popularity and critical acclaim, the book has been banned and challenged in schools and libraries across the United States. In this post, we’ll explore the reasons behind the ban and give you an overview of this important work of literature.


  1. “I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” – Daisy Buchanan. Daisy expresses the limited options available to women in her time period and the expectations placed upon them by society.
  2. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – Nick Carraway. This iconic line from the novel is a metaphor for the human struggle against the inevitable passage of time and the desire to cling to the past.
  3. “I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.” – Jordan Baker. Jordan’s words suggest the superficiality and lack of genuine connection at the large, lavish parties thrown by the wealthy characters in the book.
  4. “I hope I never get that desperate. But I know that if I do, I will go about it with a great deal of care.” – Myrtle Wilson. Myrtle’s words reveal her willingness to use her sexuality as a tool for climbing the social ladder, even if it means sacrificing her own happiness and well-being.
  5. “The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.” – Nick Carraway. This quote conveys the sense of despair and hopelessness that Nick feels as he watches the tragic events of the novel unfold before him.

The Great Gatsby vs. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Other Works: A Comparative Analysis

F. Scott Fitzgerald was a prolific writer who explored similar themes and styles in many of his works. In this table, we’ll compare The Great Gatsby to some of his other most well-known novels and explore their similarities and differences.

The Great Gatsby1925Wealth, Love, The American DreamThe Roaring TwentiesJay GatsbyMixed Reviews, Commercial Failure
Tender Is the Night1934Wealth, Love, The American DreamEurope and the United StatesDick DiverMixed Reviews, Commercial Failure
This Side of Paradise1920Wealth, Love, The American DreamThe United StatesAmory BlaineCommercial Success, Critical Acclaim
The Beautiful and Damned1922Wealth, Love, The American DreamThe United StatesAnthony PatchMixed Reviews, Commercial Success
The Last Tycoon1941Wealth, Love, The American DreamHollywood in the 1930sMonroe StahrUnfinished, Posthumously Published

As we can see from the table, F. Scott Fitzgerald was a writer who consistently explored themes of love, wealth, and the American Dream in his novels. However, the settings, protagonists, and reception of his works varied widely. The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night are the most thematically similar of Fitzgerald’s works, both exploring the complexities of love, wealth, and illusions. Meanwhile, This Side of Paradise stands out as a critical and commercial success, while The Beautiful and Damned received mixed reviews despite its commercial success.

Books to Read If You Loved The Great Gatsby

If you loved The Great Gatsby, you might enjoy these other novels that explore similar themes and styles:

Book TitleAuthorBrief Overview of Similarities
The Sun Also RisesErnest HemingwayExplores the disillusionment of the Lost Generation in a similar time period and setting. Features a cast of characters who are similarly lost and disillusioned.
The Catcher in the RyeJ.D. SalingerOffers a critique of the shallow materialism and phoniness of American society. Features a protagonist who, like Gatsby, is searching for meaning in a superficial world.
The Age of InnocenceEdith WhartonA critique of the oppressive social norms and expectations of New York high society in the late 19th century. Features themes of social class and the pressures of conformity.

All three of these books explore similar themes and styles as The Great Gatsby. The Sun Also Rises shares the disillusionment of a generation in a similar time period and setting, while The Catcher in the Rye critiques the superficiality and phoniness of American society. The Age of Innocence explores similar themes of social class and the pressures of conformity, making it a good choice for readers interested in the historical context of The Great Gatsby.

Book Reviews:

  1. “The Great Gatsby is one of the greatest American novels ever written. Fitzgerald’s prose is poetic and poignant, and his characters are complex and relatable. Despite its controversial themes, The Great Gatsby offers an honest and insightful look into the moral decay of the 1920s. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of American literature and culture.” 2. “I can understand why some people might find The Great Gatsby offensive, but that doesn’t mean it should be banned. This book offers an important social critique that is still relevant today. The characters and their struggles feel real, and the language is beautiful. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a challenging and thought-provoking read.”
  1. “I found The Great Gatsby to be a bit overrated. The characters were shallow and unlikable, and the plot felt contrived. While I appreciate Fitzgerald’s writing style, I couldn’t get invested in the story. Maybe this just isn’t my cup of tea, but I don’t see what all the fuss is about.”
  2. “The Great Gatsby is a masterpiece of American literature. Fitzgerald’s depiction of the Roaring Twenties is both glamorous and devastating, and his critique of the American Dream is timeless. The characters are flawed but fascinating, and the plot is gripping. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the complexities of American culture and history.”
  3. “I read The Great Gatsby in high school and was blown away by its brilliance. The language is rich and vivid, and the characters are memorable and haunting. The themes of love, wealth, and the pursuit of happiness are universal, and Fitzgerald captures them perfectly. I can see why this book is considered a classic, and I would encourage anyone who hasn’t read it to give it a try.”
A common misconception about The Great Gatsby is that it glamorizes the excesses and decadence of the Roaring Twenties, when in fact it critiques the shallow materialism and moral corruption of that era.

Pros of The Great Gatsby:

  • Poetic and poignant prose
  • Complex and relatable characters
  • Timely critique of the American Dream
  • Universally relevant themes

Cons of The Great Gatsby:

  • Controversial content that may offend some readers
  • Shallow or unlikable characters may turn off some readers


The Great Gatsby is a classic American novel that offers a timeless critique of the moral decay and illusions of the American Dream. Despite being banned and challenged, this book remains a must-read for anyone interested in the history of American literature and culture. While some readers may find its content offensive or its characters unlikable, The Great Gatsby’s poetic prose and universal themes make it a masterpiece of American literature that stands the test of time.

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