Minor Characters in The Great Gatsby: Character List & Analysis

Instructor: Christina Boggs

Chrissy has taught secondary English and history and writes online curriculum. She has an M.S.Ed. in Social Studies Education.

While you may know major characters like Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby from F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece, how much do you know about the novel's minor characters? This lesson analyzes the important contributions of minor characters in ''The Great Gatsby.''

A Closer Look at Minor Characters in The Great Gatsby

When you read The Great Gatsby, it's very easy to get caught up in the main character, Jay Gatsby. After all, the title of the book is named after him! As a reader, you see Gatsby's world through the eyes of narrator Nick Carraway. While only a handful of characters, like the Buchanans and Jordan Baker, may seem important to the story, in reality there are a number of minor characters who contribute to the novel as well.

Meyer Wolfsheim

We first meet Meyer Wolfsheim on a sweltering summer day in a New York speakeasy. Outwardly, Wolfsheim is a repellent person who makes Nick Carraway uneasy; after all, he wears cuff links made from human molars! Through Gatsby, the reader comes to learn that Meyer Wolfsheim is a gambler. Not only is he a gambler, 'he's the man who fixed the World's Series back in 1919.' Wolfsheim gives the reader a peek behind the velvet curtain of Gatsby's life. Gatsby is not some golden boy who made his millions honestly. Instead, Gatsby's a cog in a very seedy business venture.

Owl Eyes

Owl Eyes is one of the many partygoers who frequents Gatsby's home on the weekends. Nick Carraway and Jordan Baker come across the 'stout middle-aged man with enormous owl-eyed spectacles' in Gatsby's library. While Owl Eyes may seem like a ridiculous man, he's one of the few people who questions Gatsby's existence. Unlike the other guests, who are perfectly happy drinking Gatsby's champagne and dancing to his music, Owl Eyes questions Gatsby and his entire existence. This is reflected in his complete shock that Gatsby's library books are, in fact, real; they're not simply a clever ruse meant to deceive the guests. Owl Eyes is also, as one of the few characters in the novel who truly sees Gatsby, one of the few people who actually shows up to Gatsby's funeral.

Klipspringer

Ewing Klipspringer is mentioned only a few times in The Great Gatsby, and he doesn't actually have anything to share directly with the reader. So why does he matter? Described by Nick Carraway, 'Klipspringer was there so often and so long that he became known as 'the boarder'.' Klipspringer is the extreme representation of every person who used Gatsby for his money and for his parties. Later in the novel, Klipspringer is asked to play the piano briefly for Gatsby, Carraway, and Daisy Buchanan. To no surprise, Klipspringer is pretty upset that he's expected to do something. After Gatsby dies, Klipspringer completely detaches himself from the fallen millionaire. He calls the house looking for a pair of tennis shoes, and has a number of excuses as to why he can't be at the funeral. What a guy!

Dan Cody

Dan Cody is one of the characters from The Great Gatsby whom the reader does not get to meet directly. From Carraway, we learn that Cody was the man who plucked the lowly James Gatz from obscurity and made him into the man, the myth, and the legend: Jay Gatsby. Cody met Gatsby on Lake Superior, and for five years, the two traveled the world together. Cody taught Gatsby how to be a gentleman and became the general blueprint for Gatsby's life of wealth and power. Cody's lifestyle also serves as a warning for Gatsby, as Dan Cody was a boozing millionaire who loved many women; alcohol and a sketchy mistress were ultimately his downfall. Meanwhile, Gatsby limits himself to one singular love (Daisy Buchanan) and does not drink alcohol.

Pammy Buchanan

Pammy is the daughter of Daisy and Tom Buchanan. The little girl appears once in the novel, really as more of an object than an actual character. Daisy shows off her daughter to her friends. The little girl, dressed in white (a sign of purity and innocence), is a symbol of the leisure class, or the wealthy. The Buchanans have enough money to pay a full-time nurse to raise their child while Daisy spends her days doing whatever she pleases. Pammy is also representative of the perfect Jazz Age child; she is seen but seldom heard.

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