Describe Nick in The Great Gatsby. What facts do you know about him, and what do you infer about him? What kind of narrator do you think he will be?

We know that Nick in The Great Gatsby is from an upper-class Midwestern family, financially comfortable but not particularly wealthy. He has received an elite education at Yale and has a strong sense of the complexity of class distinctions. He is a relatively reliable and balanced narrator, despite his prejudices, and makes an effort to present the other characters in a nuanced fashion.

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Nick describes himself in unusual detail at the beginning of the novel, starting with a claim that he is "inclined to reserve all judgments." In a narrator, this is clearly a claim that he will simply present the facts and let the reader decide what to make of the characters and their actions. It is worth making a distinction in this regard between Nick as narrator and Nick as a character in the novel. As a character, he clearly does make moral judgments, particularly in the heat of the moment, as when he refuses to shake hands with Tom Buchanan. As a narrator, however, Nick clearly likes some characters more than others (and, for that matter, dislikes most of them) but is committed to presenting them in all their complexity, as he presents himself, with some attempt at detachment.

Nick tells us a lot about his family and his ancestry. His family have been "prominent, well-to-do people in this middle-western city for three generations" and claim aristocratic descent, though Nick dismisses...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 998 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on May 18, 2020
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