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What makes the central character of "The Great Gatsby" dynamic?
What makes the central character of
Nick should be considered the central character in the novel, and as such, he is clearly dynamic. Before going to New York, Nick is very nonjudgmental, a trait he learned from his father. By the conclusion of the novel, Nick judges both Tom and Daisy: He finds them completely contemptible. When he encounters Tom after Gatsby’s death, Nick’s first impulse (although he doesn’t act upon it) is to refuse to shake Tom’s hand.
One of the central themes in the novel is Nick’s initiation into the Buchanan’s world of wealth and selfish recklessness. What he experiences stands in stark contrast to his own Midwestern values and code of conduct. What Nick witnesses often shocks and sometimes sickens him. Ultimately, he rejects the amorality of the East and returns home a different man—disillusioned and heartsick.
The novel’s retrospective point of view emphasizes the dynamic nature of Nick’s character. When novel begins, Nick remembers Tom and Daisy and Gatsby and everything that occurred that summer on Long Island. Although he is now far removed from Gatsby’s tragedy, he is still struggling to understand it and achieve some kind of peace.
Nick is an interesting narrator, because he is in some ways Gatsby's biographer. He kinds of reminds me of Archie Goodwin to Nero Wolfe, or Dr. Watson to Sherlock Holmes. He is present, but not really there. He responds to the action, rather than driving it. This does not mean that he does not change. If anything, he becomes more and more disillusioned as time goes on.
A central character is the one character most closely related to a plot's rising action, climax/conflict, falling action, and resolution. In The Great Gatsby, you'd be looking at Nick as your central character because of his proximity to all of the plot lines, specifically the conflict between Tom and Gatsby over Daisy. Gatsby could also receive some argument as a central character as well.
A dynamic character is one who undergoes some sort of changes in principles, thought, or values, i.e. the way he/she views the world. This is different from a static character who maintains the same ideas and ideals throughout an entire novel. In this case, Nick could certainly be viewed as a dynamic character on many different levels. One example of this would be how he originally views the eastern US to the western in the beginning of the novel as opposed to the end. In the beginning, he hopes that the east will provide him with solid business opportunities and a chance to live the best life possible. He believes that the west, where he grew up, is just too simple and unchanging to provide him those opportunties. By the end of the novel, Nick recognizes that the safety of the west was the only opportunity he ever needed. The lifestyle in the east wasn't what he expected, so he retreats to what he feels comfortable around. Gatsby is dynamic also, although for other reasons than Nick.
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