Compare the similarities and differences between Gatsby and Nick in The Great Gatsby.

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Although both men hail originally from the Midwest, it's Nick who displays more in the way of old-fashioned Midwestern values. For one thing, he's much more grounded than Gatsby. He's certainly ambitious in life, but not insanely so. Certainly we can't imagine him making the kind of moral compromises that Jay finds himself making, or engaging in any of Jay's various criminal activities. Nick's attitude to the denizens of East Egg is much more cynical than Jay's. Gatsby wants to belong to the social elite, yearns to be accepted by them. Nick has no such ambitions; he'll happily attend social gatherings with the likes of Tom and Daisy, but he always keeps his distance, knowing that the East Eggers will never truly accept a parvenu as one of their own.

Nick, like Jay, subscribes to the myth of the American Dream. But his particular version is so much more realistic, more attainable. And this puts Nick in a prime position as narrator to provide a balanced, disinterested perspective on all the...

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