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What does Nick see as his "cardinal virtue" in Chapter 3 of The Great Gatsby?

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marisa13 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 1, 2010 at 3:04 AM via web

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What does Nick see as his "cardinal virtue" in Chapter 3 of The Great Gatsby?

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 1, 2010 at 3:54 AM (Answer #1)

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The quote you are looking for is in the last paragraph of the chapter in The Great Gatsby.  The narrator, Nick, writes:

Everyone 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.

Nick of course is referring to his feeling that he needs to officially break off relations with a girl back home before he goes any farther in his relations with Jordan. He implies that it would be dishonest to continue with Jordan without first breaking his relationship off with the other woman.

Nick's statement here is important to the novel as a whole, because Nick keeps emphasizing how honest, nonjudgmental, and objective he is, when as a narrator he is unreliable, and is judgmental and subjective.

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