I watched The Great Gatsby twice, but there is one thing I don't understand. How did Mr. Gatsby became so rich after being a sailor?

  • he didn't sail he sold alcohol.
    – user29457
    Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 17:29

1 Answer 1


While sailing with his mentor Dan Cody, Gatsby learned to speak and act like a well educated gentleman. This allowed him to keep a reputation as a member of high society and reach people who would not have normally had access to.

When Cody died he had anticipated an inheritance but this turned out not to be.

With his ability to make friends all over the city he became immensely valuable to the criminal underworld who used him to sell bootlegged alcohol (effectively smuggling in the same way a drug smuggler/dealer works today).

With this money he bought a big house, hosted fantastic parties all with the goal of reconnecting with his long lost love Daisy Fay.

  • Finally I understood, Thank you so much for your reply. Commented Sep 19, 2013 at 8:45
  • 4
    In the book, Tom Buchanan says: "I found out what your ‘drug-stores’ were." He turned to us and spoke rapidly. "He and this Wolfsheim bought up a lot of side-street drug-stores here and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter. That’s one of his little stunts. I picked him for a bootlegger the first time I saw him, and I wasn’t far wrong." Commented Sep 19, 2013 at 15:58
  • Yes, he was very much a conman, he wasn't near as wealthy as he appeared to be, he built up a myth and it was a big part in why everyone revered him, basically everyone was conned and he used people he had already conned to convince others to believe the hype.
    – Raytrek
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 10:39
  • If you can convince a person who has credibility to vouch for you then they risk their credibility but others will trust you, Gatsby just never really gave anyone reason to stop trusting him so the people he conned kept their credibility and he kept their trust.
    – Raytrek
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 10:46

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