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In The Great Gatsby, what is the significance of Nick’s taking charge of Gatsby’s...

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kest24 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted April 17, 2010 at 7:21 AM via web

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In The Great Gatsby, what is the significance of Nick’s taking charge of Gatsby’s funeral arrangements?

 

 

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 17, 2010 at 7:25 AM (Answer #1)

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To me, the significance of Nick taking charge of Gatsby's funeral arrangements is that it proves that Gatsby's pursuit of his version of the American Dream was pointless and futile.

For most of his life, Gatsby pursued wealth.  He thought that getting rich would bring him into high society.  More importantly, he thought it would get Daisy to accept him.  However, it becomes clear that this did not happen.

After he dies, none of the people who surrounded him (other than Nick) cares enough about him to arrange the funeral (or even to attend it).  This shows that Gatsby's striving was empty -- it left him without anyone who loved or cared about him.

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 17, 2010 at 7:31 AM (Answer #2)

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In my opinion, Nick's ambition to arrange the funeral is both shocking and obvious.

Throughout the entire work, Nick has been judging so many of Gatsby's moves after telling us he doesn't really judge people. Gatsby's change in lifestyle after the affair and the crazed man Nick describes to us as readers demonstrates that judgment. So, in that regard, it shocks me that he would take such responsibility for making Gatsby's life one of significance.

On the other hand, Nick has been narrating this story for a reason, likely to show something about Gatsby since the title is named after him. So, maybe this funeral is the whole point of the story. Nick is realizing through his pursuit of the funeral that Gatsby's amazing life isn't all that amazing if no one shows up to honor the life that he lived. 

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 17, 2010 at 8:30 AM (Answer #3)

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I think Nick arranged Gatsby's funeral because no one else would. The significance, in that respect, is that Nick was the only one who cared enough about Gatsby to do so.  While Gatsby was the center of partytown, he clearly had no close friends. While we come to know Gatsby through Nick, we can only assume that Nick's assertions of Gatsby are correct. Throughout Gatsby's pursuit of Daisy (his American Dream), he doesn't even care to establish intimate relationships. For him, the journey is Not the thing; only the end goal was.  This is partly because he is playing a role but mostly because he is so focused on the idea of Daisy, reflected by the green light which comes to be like a religious icon for him. Another reason why Nick takes charge of the funeral is that Nick feels empathy for Gatsby. I think this really began when he saw how flustered Gatsby was the first time he met Daisy again at Nick's place.  So, sort of echoing the last poster, he feels sorry for Gatsby and feels the loss of a friend, but Nick also considered himself one of the most honest people he knows, so to go to lengths to honor Gatsby, it's odd; Nick must have come to see Gatsby's dishonesty also with a sort of pathetic admiration and sympathy, in light of Gatsby's tragic end and his naive puruit of the past.

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

Posted April 17, 2010 at 8:56 AM (Answer #4)

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Nick takes charge of Gatsby's funeral arrangements because it is the decent thing to do, under the circumstances, and Nick is a decent person grounded in traditional Midwestern values. In Nick's role as narrator throughout the novel, his has been the voice of Midwestern values in contrast to the amorality he finds in the East, primarily through the characters of Tom and Daisy Buchanan. After Gatsby's murder, it is Nick who remains to pick up the pieces and "clean up the mess" wrought by the Buchanans. Nick is disgusted that Daisy never contacts him after Gatsby's death. He is disgusted that Wolfsheim will have no part of Gatsby after his death. Nick is the one character who behaves in a morally responsible way, trying to "get somebody" for Gatsby who lies alone in death. When Gatsby's father shows up for the funeral, Nick treats the old man with respect and kindness. It is only after Nick has buried Gatsby with some dignity and broken off his relationship with Jordan in an honorable way that he closes his own house and goes home, leaving the East behind him forever.

The major significance of Nick's taking charge of Gatsby's funeral arrangements is that it shows how grounded in decency and principles he is truly is. Nick's voice becomes Fitzgerald's voice of moral authority and moral judgment in the novel.

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lfawley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted April 17, 2010 at 9:17 AM (Answer #5)

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Nick was Gatsby's only true friend. He was also the closest person Gatsby had to family until his father arrived. Gatsby had been surrounded by people since he moved in to his mansion and established himself as the place to be for the who's who in society on the party circuit. After the parties ended, people still occasionally drove by, usually those who had been gone from town when the parties came to an end, but then they, too, moved on. Even his long term uninvited house guest who had come for the party and never left moved on to the next party, the next house. All of these people quickly forgot about Gatsby. They were, like Daisy and Tom, self-centered and unconcerned about other people beyond to what degree those other people could do something for them. Motice that none of them came to the funeral. Nick, on the other hand, stuck around even after Daisy killed Myrtle and abandoned Gatsby. Meyer Wolfsheim made a remark that has always stood out in my mind about letting your friends know how much they mean to you while they are still alive and not waiting until after they are dead to show you care. This is true friendship, and it embodies what Nick was to Gatsby. Nick then takes it a step further and makes the arrangements because he was, and still continued to be after death, Gatsby's friend.

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