The minor characters of The Great Gatsby by, Scott Fitzgerald, play an important role in contributing to the plot, theme, and giving the reader an overall understanding of the novel as a whole. The two most prominent minor characters that shape the story include Dan Cody and Meyer Wolfsheim. These characters, in particular, primarily assisted F. Scott Fitzgerald in describing the mysterious character, James Gatsby.
Mr. Wolfsheim is a very influential character who helps introduce the first hints that Gatsby was not entirely who he said he was. Wolfsheim is a Jewish mobster, who is both a very good friend and a business associate of Gatsby. Wolfshiem is a shady character with underground business connections. When Nick first meets Wolfsheim at the restaurant he casually begins telling stories about how his friend got shot just across the street while he was having coffee. Then Gatsby tells Nick that Wolfsheim was the man who fixed the 1919 World Series. He gives Nick the impression that the source of Gatsby's money might be illicit, and that Gatsby may even have ties to the organized crime that Wolfshiem is associated. This is another example of Fitzgerald, in a very subtle manner, shaping how Nick, and particularly the reader, views Mr. Gatsbys world. The symbolic role of the mobsters and liquor bootlegging was Fitzgeralds attempt to portray the setting in the 1920s. It also portrayed a lack of morals, and a drive for money that was prevalent in American society back then. Wolfshein returns at the end of the book after Gatsby gets shot dead in his pool. He explains how he made Gatsby everything he his and how he brought him into his business. Even so, Wolfsheim blatantly refuses to attend the funeral. He says When my men get killed I never like to get mixed up in it. This raises even more concerning questions about Gatsbys concealed past, and that he has involved himself with some unlawful activities.
The other significant character that contributed to the novel was Dan Cody. As a child Gatsby hated his lower class lifestyle and dreamed of great riches and power. So one day he runs away from his poor farmer family and changes his name. Shuffling down the beach Gatsby spots a yacht owned by the very wealthy Dan Cody, and warns him of the coming storm that could potentially beach his boat. Very grateful, Cody invites him to travel the world with him as his first mate. Gatsby became accustomed to, and fell in love with the lifestyle of the rich and wealth. Cody gave Gatsby his singularly appropriate education; the vague contour of Jay Gatsby had filled out the substantiality of a man. It was partially because of Mr. Cody that Gatsby never adopted the excessive drinking lifestyle usually associated with upscale people of the time. After Dan Cody died he left Gatsby $25,000, but this was not enough. Gatsby was forever determined to become much more wealthy and successful. Dan Cody develops Gatsbys obsession with extreme estate and status, and inspires him to cast away his old lower-class life, and assimilate into the life he had always envisioned.
These two minor yet important characters play an essential role in the development of the novel as a whole. Though there contributions are small their characters are huge in the advancement of the story line. Without any one of these people the book would not be the master piece that is.