In Chapter One of The Great Gatsby, what factual information is given about Nick and what can the reader infer? What kind of narrator will he be?

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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I agree completely with mshurn, and I would like to add a few more factual tidbits that the audience learns about Nick Carraway in Chapter 1.  First, we learn that Nick "graduated from New Haven in 1915" as his father did before him (3).  This was incredibly interesting to me because it means that Nick already had his first taste of New England even before World War I.  Second, and perhaps just as interesting, we learn that eventually planned to come East "permanently . . . in the spring of twenty-two" (3).  Nick planned it to be a permanent move, huh?  Never really realized that!  Next, although I have always loosely referred to Nick and Daisy as "cousins," I found the line where Nick reveals that Daisy is, in fact, "my second cousin once removed" (5) and further that Nick "knew Tom in college, and just after the war I spent two days with them in Chicago" (6).  Thus, although these are not the most pertinent factual bits of information, they seem to give a few peeks into Nicks character that I hadn't noticed before.

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

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We know Nick is from a comfortable, well established (but not wealthy) family in the Midwest that has taught him the value of work. He served in World War I. After returning home, he was restless and went to New York to learn the bond business. His family supported him financially for one year in order for him to go, but they expected him to support himself after that. 

We know that while in the East something very significant happened to Nick in relation to someone extraordinary he knew there named Gatsby. We can infer that Nick is a sensitive person because he still remembers whatever it was that happened, and it changed him in a significant way. Before going to the East, Nick had been a very non-judgmental person; he returns, however, having developed a very strong sense of moral (and immoral) behavior, and he condemns immoral behavior. Nick's first encounter with the Buchanans in East Egg shows that his Midwestern values are going to clash with the sophistication he finds in the East. Nick seems to be a trustworthy young man. His family trusted him with money, his college friends trusted him with their confidences, and nothing in the first chapter suggests that will not be a reliable narrator.

 

 

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