Nick Carraway Is Too Deeply Involved Narrator English Literature Essay

How far and in what ways do you agree with this view of The Great Gatsby?

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is written in the first person and the narration comes from a war veteran named Nick Carraway, whom we learn is from a Midwestern family who has come to live in the city to find work. As a reader we see events unfold through Nicks eyes. This gives Nick credibility and as a reader we can feel confident in him because we see things exactly how he saw it. He would have been present at the events thus we are getting a first-hand experience of it all. However, as good as that can be Nick may interpret events in a different way to how they actually were; he even may disregard something that actually is of great significance. It also must be remembered that throughout the novel Nick does describe some events even though he was not present. So his narration could be questionable in some aspects. Critics have suggested that Nick represents Fitzgerald because Nick feels various characters have forgotten the core of American society which is something shared by Fitzgerald.

At the beginning of the novel Nick feels he has to makes sure that we have full trust in him as a narrator. He makes it clear to us that he is not judgemental by appearance and that he makes judgement on people once he knows the qualities of that person. He makes this clear to us on the first page, ‘I feel inclined to reserve all judgements’. He says he was taught ‘not to be judgemental’ by his father which does install some confidence as a reader into him. This is because if he were to judge people at first sight he would not take into account all the actions but only what he saw first. It is reasonable to believe you should weigh up both the negatives and positives about someone before you make judgement. Thus it makes him seem to be a reliable narrator because he telling us one of his qualities as a person is not to be judgemental.

Nick plays the middle man between the various characters in the novel because he has a friendly relationship with everyone. The characters feel they can trust Nick because of the way he comes across when speaking or spending time with them. He feels especially attached to Gatsby whom he lives next door to. Since he heard of Gatsby he felt he had to meet to him and when he finally does he is over whelmed. Nick’s attitude toward Gatsby is one of uncertainness and at times could be argued to be contradictory. Nick is impressed with Gatsby’s personality and qualities as a person because he says to Gatsby that ‘you’re worth the whole damn bunch put together’. However he then later claims he never really understood him, ‘I disapproved of him from beginning to end’ so we never get a true reflection of Nicks feeling towards Gatsby because he too caught up in his own emotions and feelings. At times he does not agree with of Gatsby’s defiance of ethics, but he also familiarises and admires Gatsby, describing the events of the novel in a yearning tone. He questions a lot of Gatsby’s tales but in the end he is convinced it was the truth, this is because Nick is drawn into Gatsby’s persona of which he then carries. To aid Nick in making judgement upon people he often tells us what other characters think of each other, for example he uses something Daisy said about Gatsby to back his point further, ‘isn’t he just wonderful’. This is to take that cloudiness away from his own thoughts and feelings upon the situation.

It could also be argued Nick is very much caught up in the American Dream, this is something Fitzgerald was particularly interested in and he thought 1920’s society had forgotten its core values and moral codes. The obsession of money is a key theme in the novel and something Nick is not impressed with. He says that Daisy’s voice is ‘full of money’; this means that Nick feels that if something is not of any value Daisy will disregard it. This is seen in hers and Gatsby’s relationship once finding out that he was not of any wealth she left him and found someone who was. In return Gatsby in what we can only assume has got his wealth through going against prohibition and selling alcohol.