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Nick is definitely an outsider. This is important to the reader so that we can see the different personalities and traits of the West Egg people, the East Egg people, and even the Valley of Ashes people. Not only is his cottage not a mansion, nor is it slovenly, it just doesn't fit in anywhere. His way of thinking is so very different from all of them. The character who thinks most in line with Nick would be Jay Gatsby. Jay doesn't use people. In fact, he lets them use him. All he wants is for Daisy to show up one night so that he can see her again and win her back.
People like Daisy and Tom use others and then throw them away when they're done with them. We wouldn't see it quite that way if Nick wasn't the narrator. As for the party, Nick never goes until he gets an invitation. All the other people who flock to his house and drink and eat his drinks and food appear without invitations. Finally, Jay sends a messenger over with an official invitation. So Nick does eventually go, but he went about "participating" in the correct and proper way.
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