Why Does Nick Feel Responsible For Getting People To The Funeral

In The Great Gatsby, why does Nick feel responsible for getting people to attend Gatsby's funeral?


Expert Answers info

mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write16,149 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

In Chapter Nine of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald Nick narrates that as he was there alone with Gatsby who lay there hour after hour

it grew upon me that I was responsible, because no one else was interested--interested, I mean, with that intense personal interest to which everyone has some vague right at the end.

When Nick calls Daisy, he learns that they have gone away "and taken baggage with them" and left no forwarding address.  Nick tells Gatsby, "I'll get somebody for you, Gatsby."  He tries to call Meyer Wolfshiem, but Wolfschiem is afraid to "get mixed up in any way."  After having made countless calls with one man telling Nick that Gatsby got what he deserved, Nick feels discouraged and "a certain shame" for Gatsby. Finally, old Owl Eyes arrives and echoes "Amen in a brave voice."

Owl Eyes and Nick are the only ones who have seen any genuineness in Gatsby; all the others have simply exploited him. Morosely, Nick remarks, "This has been a story of the West, after all."  He condemns what has become of the Western world that is so decadent that it makes sacrificial victims of such as Jay Gatsby.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial
Doug Stuva eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write1,751 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

Concerning Nick's feeling responsible for getting people to attend Gatsby's funeral in The Great Gatsby, Nick likes and admires Gatsby throughout the novel.  He at one point says that Gatsby is worth more than all of the other characters in his narrative put together.  He simply feels that Gatsby deserves a strong showing at the funeral.

Nick also believes he sees something in Gatsby that others don't.  Psychologically, particularly if we recognize that Nick is an unreliable narrator, this gives Nick a feeling of superiority.  He alone recognizes Gatsby's worth.  He comes off as a better person because he gives Gatsby the worth and homage Gatsby deserves.  He believes he sees the truth about Gatsby.

Also, the novel is in part a satire.  Nick's emphasis on the contrast between the hordes of people that used to come to Gatsby's party with the hordes that stay away from the funeral points to the Jazz Age self-centeredness, shallowness, and frivolousness.   It also points to the hypocrisy of Daisy and Wolfsheim. 

Nick's feeling responsible for getting people to attend Gatsby's funeral also, by the way, reveals Nick's continued naivete.  Not that he tries to get people to attend, but that he is surprised when they don't.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial
lensor eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2003

write31 answers

starTop subject is Literature

As one of the prominent characters in the novel, Nick Carraway is the voice of ethical and moral behavior.  His honest, forthright behavior serves to amplify out the reckless, decadent lifestyles of the wealthy (Jordan Baker, Tom and Daisy Buchanan); the major exception to this is Jay Gatsby.  Nick is able to understand Gatsby's motives for living the life he has chosen: Gatsby has involved himself in racketeering so that he might be financially able to enter Daisy's world.

This understanding of Gatsby's character leads Nick to become closer to the title character.  In fact, Nick recognizes the "simplicity of heart" that Gatsby has, and he learns to respect Gatsby for the great man that he is.  When Gatsby dies, Nick wants to make certain that this man, who is "better than the whole rotten bunch put together" is honored as he should be (enotes).  Therefore, he assumes responsibility for getting people to Gatsby's funeral.  Unfortunately, he fails to get Gatsby's erstwhile friends to attend, and he sees once again just how shallow Tom, Daisy, Jordan, and others are.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

dana-bell19 | Student

Nick wants to be certain that Jay Gatsby is honoured the way he should be, therefore he does his best to get everyone to the funeral of mr. Gatsby that he has planned.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial