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How does Nick describe himself at the beginning of "The Great Gatsby"?

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krrl25 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 1, 2008 at 11:28 PM via web

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How does Nick describe himself at the beginning of "The Great Gatsby"?

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podunc | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted May 1, 2008 at 11:42 PM (Answer #1)

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Nick begins his story by establishing the fact that he does not pass judgment on people--a quality instilled in him by his father. His father's advice to Nick during his "younger and more vulnerable years" is to "remember . . . the advantages you've had" when he "feel[s] like criticizing anyone."

Because of his father's values, Nick is "inclined to reserve all judgments" on others, which makes him attractive to people with stories to tell. As a result, he often finds himself "privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men"--people like Jay Gatsby.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 2, 2008 at 12:14 AM (Answer #2)

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Nick is from a well-to-do family but lives rather modestly.  He describes himself as "the only honest person" he knows.  He is the moral center of the book, although he tends to be corrupted a bit by his neighbors' and Daisy's reckless and extravagant ways as the book progresses. He is disgusted by the "amusement park" behavior of Gatsby's guests, yet he is attracted to the lifestyle and Jordan Baker--both which will cost him his innocence and modesty later on in the book.

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