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What does Nick's analysis of Jordan reveal about Nick himself in The Great Gatsby?

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pashti | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted August 26, 2013 at 7:53 PM via web

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What does Nick's analysis of Jordan reveal about Nick himself in The Great Gatsby?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 26, 2013 at 8:42 PM (Answer #1)

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As the "moral center" of the narrative of The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway is flawed as evinced in his reactions to Jordan Baker. Having stated in Chapter One that he wants the world to be at "a sort of moral attention," he is, nevertheless, attracted to Jordan with her "contemptuous expression" and detached manner and amoral behavior, as exemplified at parties and on the golf course. When she speaks to Nick in Chapter One of hers and Daisy's "white girlhood" that was passed together, the implication is clearly that she is no longer pure.

Further, in Chapter Three, in which Nick declares himself as "one of the few honest people" he has ever known, he yet describes Jordan as the opposite: 

Jordan Baker instinctively avoided clever shrewd men...because she felt safer on a plane where any divergence from a code would be thought impossible. She was incurably dishonest....I suppose she had begun dealing in subterfuges when she was very young in order to keep that cool insolent smile turned to the world....

It made no difference to me. Dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply--I was casually sorry, and then I forgot.

Moreover, Nick himself becomes what Jordan terms carelessness in a person as "a bad driver." In their last conversation of Chapter Nine when Nick breaks off with Jordan, she says that she recalls that Nick has told her that a "bad driver" is safe as long as she/he does not meet 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."

After Jordan's remarks, Nick remembers that it is his birthday, and he is thirty years old, "too old to lie to myself and call it honor." Thus, he admits that he has compromised his moral code. 

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