In the second place, the Elizabethans were ingenious, that is, they were imaginative and resourceful. Impelled by the mighty forces of the Reformation and the Revival of Learning which the England of Elizabeth alone felt at one and the same time, the Elizabethans craved and obtained variety of experience, which kept the fountainhead of ingenuity filled. It is instructive to follow the lives of Elizabethans as different as Sir Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh, Captain John Smith, and John Winthrop, and to note the varied experiences of each. Yankee ingenuity had an Elizabethan ancestry. The hard conditions of the New World merely gave an opportunity to exercise to the utmost an ingenuity which the colonists brought with them.
In terms of what the novel says about American identity, there are a few threads you could pick up – one is Nick’s comment in Chapter 9 about the novel really being a story about (mid)westerners trying (and failing) to go East : “I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all--Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life” (). This observation suggests an American identity that is determined by birthplace, and that within the American identity there are smaller, inescapable points of identification.
In a 2013 poll by a YouGov , 41% of responders said it is impossible for most to achieve the American Dream, while 38% said it is still possible.  Most Americans perceive a college education as the ticket to the American Dream.  Some recent observers warn that soaring student loan debt crisis and shortages of good jobs may undermine this ticket.  The point was illustrated in The Fallen American Dream ,  a documentary film that details the concept of the American Dream from its historical origins to its current perception.