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I'd like to know if "honest" and "dishonest(y)" refer explicitly to sincerity,...

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coutelle | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted May 3, 2013 at 3:06 PM via web

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I'd like to know if "honest" and "dishonest(y)" refer explicitly to sincerity, insincerity in the following excerpts from The Great Gatsby or, overall, to (the lack of) uprightness of disposition and conduct:

1) - Chapter 3:  Jordan Baker instinctively avoided clever shrewd men and now I saw that this was because she felt safer on a plane where any divergence from a code would be thought impossible. She was incurably dishonest. 

-  Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.

-  Dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply—I was casually sorry, and then I forgot. 

 

-2 Chapter 9:  "You said a bad driver was only safe until she met another bad driver? Well, I met another bad driver, didn't I? I mean it was careless of me to make such a wrong guess. I thought you were rather an honest, straightforward person. I thought it was your secret pride."

 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 3, 2013 at 5:36 PM (Answer #1)

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Representative of the "flapper" of the Roaring Twenties, Jordan Baker possesses an amorality which prevails throughout the narrative.  In fact, she is a cheater:  She cheats at golf, and she is deceptive in her behavior. In Chapter Three, for instance, as Nick speaks to her about Gatsby, Jordan observes that he gives large parties that are "so intimate. At small parties there isn't any privacy." This remark is typical of Jordan's "ironic and incongruous" comments on life, remarks intended to disguise her innate dishonesty and deception and insincerity. She avoids people like herself who are capable of perceiving that she has abandoned a "white girlhood." And, yet, she is upset when cheated herself, berating Nick for his being "a bad driver," too, and "throwing me over."

Nick Carraway, who perceives himself as honest and straightforward, inclined to "reserve all judgments," is rather morally ambiguous himself. For, he spends much of his narration passing judgments upon people, observing that Jordan is "incurably dishonest," Gatsby is a representative of "everything for which I have an unaffected scorn," and Daisy and Tom Buchanan are "careless people" and those like them are "a rotten crowd." And, despite his criticisms of others for their moral turpitude, Nick associates with them. Because of his moral ambiguity, Jordan Baker makes her comment in Chapter Nine that Nick is not entirely honest, after all. Nick admits,

"I'm thirty...I'm five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor."

In essence, then, Nick admits to having been less than upright; he has not always considered the effects of his actions upon the people around him--indeed, he has been "a bad driver," especially in his aiding Gatsby to reunite with Daisy.


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