Nick Carraway – The Great Gatsby | Major English Grade XII

The Great Gatsby

Nick Carraway – The Great Gatsby | Major English Grade XII

Description of Nick Carraway

Nick is a thoughtful young man of thirty from Minnesota, who travels to New York in 1922 to learn the bond business. He lives in the West Egg district of Long Island, next door to Gatsby. Nick is also Daisy’s cousin, which enables him to observe and assist the resurgent love affair between Daisy and Gatsby. Nick is both the character and a first-person narrator in the novel. He is the readers’ access to Gatsby. This method lends compactness and unity to the novel. He easily makes friends. Nick is a keen observer of men and events around him. He is a spectator-narrator. He is half-inside and half-outside of the action.

Nick is also well suited to narrating The Great Gatsby because of his temperament. As he tells the reader in Chapter I, he is tolerant, open-minded, quiet, and a good listener, and, as a result, others tend to talk to him and tell him their secrets. Nick states earlier on that one of his flaws is that he never lies. Gatsby, in particular, comes to trust him and treat him as a confidant. Nick generally assumes a secondary role throughout the novel, preferring to describe and comment on events rather than dominate the action. Often, however, he functions as Fitzgerald’s voice, as in his extended meditation on time and the American dream at the end of Chapter IX.

He is in a mental dilemma; on the one hand, Nick is attracted to the fast-paced, fun-driven lifestyle of New York. On the other hand, he finds that lifestyle ugly and damaging. This inner conflict is symbolized throughout the book by Nick’s romantic affair with Jordan Baker. He is attracted to her energy and her sophistication just as he is repelled by her dishonesty and her lack of concern for other people. In the end, he leaves New York to live a peaceful life in his own village.

He arranges the reunion of Daisy and Gatsby. However, many critics find Nick as an unreliable narrator in the sense that he doesn’t do justice to female characters. The female characters are described as hollow, emotionless, adulterous and unreliable. At the end of chapter III, he remarks “Dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply….“. His attitude towards woman is stereotypical. He thinks that dishonesty is in the blood of women.

His role in Gatsby’s love affair | His vision about women’s dishonesty:
Nick’s fascination with Gatsby helps to shape Nick as the rescuer of the story., yet when he discovers Gatsby and Daisy are responsible for Myrtle’s death, he does nothing to about it. In fact, he comes to Gatsby’s aid. He tries to convince Gatsby to go away for a few weeks to Atlantic City or Montreal. Gatsby refuses Nicks attempts to rescue him from the situation. Gatsby winds up dead. Nick feels a sense of responsibility to organize Gatsby’s funeral. He attempts to recruit mourners for Gatsby’s funeral.

Prior to his departure from West Egg, Nick feels it is necessary to tie up all the loose ends that he has left. He attempts to patch things up with Jordan. He does not want to leave without having closure. For a brief moment, Nick is reluctant to leave but comes to the realization that the city life is no place for a Westerner.

Important Questions:

  • Discuss the role of Nick Carraway in ‘The Great Gatsby’.
  • Sketch briefly the character of Nick Caraway, and say why you like or dislike him.
  • Why is thirteenth birthday peculiar to Nick?
  • How was Nick’s attitude towards woman’s dishonesty?
  • Comment on the presentation of Nick Caraway.

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