The theme of The Great Gatsby is decadence and the decline of society. Although the story is told with grace and beauty, its events are intended to be shocking. True to the spirit of the times, the story involves marital infidelity, murder, and wealth earned through racketeering. Many of the characters thrive on emotional dishonesty, and live for appearance rather than substance of character. But the novel is also a moral tale in which the characters get their “just deserts.” Ultimately Nick understands the meaning of their lives and the sadness of their worlds.