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Nick as an Unreliable NarratorIn The Great Gatsby, what are some examples of when Nick...

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tink10 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 12, 2008 at 6:50 PM via web

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Nick as an Unreliable Narrator

In The Great Gatsby, what are some examples of when Nick is an unreliable narrator? Is this unintentional? Nick is unreliable for many reasons, whether he does it on purpose or not. But I need examples of when he may be unreliable because, for example:

- everyone has a unique point of view on things; his changes the way the story is told to the reader

- he doesn't fully understand something and may give the reader false information but not on purpose

- can't expect him to be totally objective but he is trying to be

- any others

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msbrenner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted January 20, 2009 at 3:03 PM (Answer #2)

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One of my favorites examples is when he gets drunk at Myrtle and Tom's 'party' in the city and ends up in the photographer's flat looking at his portfolio--with the photographer in his underpants!!

Look at the end of that chapter, you'll see his description degrade until it loses the narrative and gets choppy.  Now this example shows only one time--but I think it makes it clear that FSF is doing this intentionally!

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 21, 2009 at 8:00 PM (Answer #3)

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Nick as an Unreliable Narrator

In The Great Gatsby, what are some examples of when Nick is an unreliable narrator? Is this unintentional? Nick is unreliable for many reasons, whether he does it on purpose or not. But I need examples of when he may be unreliable because, for example:

- everyone has a unique point of view on things; his changes the way the story is told to the reader

- he doesn't fully understand something and may give the reader false information but not on purpose

- can't expect him to be totally objective but he is trying to be

- any others

If being unreliable means being subject to error, then Nick is unreliable in that he is a human being.

I've always thought the term "unreliable narrator" addressed these questions: Does the narrator know the truth? Does he tell the truth openly as he knows it? Is his judgment sound? In other words, can we trust him?

Nick is absolutely a reliable narrator. It is through Nick that Fitzgerald develops his inside/outside themes and condemns the corruption of the American Dream as it is developed in the novel. Another theme in the novel--that reality trumps illusion every time--is also developed through Nick.

Nick is a man of integrity, representative of Midwestern values that Fitzgerald believed in but did not always follow himself. Nick spends his time with Gatsby and the Buchanans, makes the kind of moral judgments he had always avoided, and then goes home, heartsick for what he has witnessed.

Nick and Gatsby represent both sides of Fitzgerald's character. Nick is the side that Fitzgerald should have listened to before it was too late.

Only two characters work for their living in the novel: George Wilson and Nick Carraway. Fitzgerald wants us to see Nick as a reliable person whose moral judgment we can trust.

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