Describe Nick. Why do you see him this way?  

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dstuva's profile pic

Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Nick in The Great Gatsby is not as he first appears, or as he would have the reader believe.

When he opens the novel telling the reader that he reserves judgement of others, because others may not have had the advantages that he had, he is demonstrating that he has feelings of superiority--he thinks he is superior to others.  And he gets this from his Midwestern father.  He wouldn't have to try so hard to not judge others, if he didn't judge others.

Nick is also extremely opinionated.  Note these examples:

  • In college, Tom's "freedom with money was a matter for reproach--..." (10). 
  • Miss Baker, the first time Nick sees her, "...was extended full length at her end of the divan, completely motionless and with her chin raised a little as if she were balancing something on it which was quite likely to fall.  If she saw me out of the corner of her eyes she gave no hint of it--indeed I was almost surprised into murmuring an apology for having disturbed her by coming in" (13).  This characterizes Jordan as lethargic and stuck up, and this is a first impression, which Nick earlier says he never uses.
  • After Tom expounds on his theories about "Nordics," Nick writes:  "There was something pathetic in his concentration as if his complacency, more acute than of old, was not enough to him any more" (18).

Nick's natural tendency is to judge others.  He may well be accurate in most of his judgements, but we don't really know, because his is the only voice we get in the novel.  Everything is filtered through Nick.

Thus, you can write whatever you decide for your assignment, but don't assume Nick is nonjudgmental and objectively observes what goes on around him.  Nick is extremely subjective.

 

missy575's profile pic

missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Nick is honest to a flaw.

If Nick was my friend, I think it would bug me because he thinks he's perfect, but he's really not. In the beginning of the first chapter he goes out of his way to talk about how he listens to people and reserves judgment. He provides evidence by explaining that he is that guy that always listens and doesn't really talk. At the end of the 3rd chapter he says about himself that he's the most honest person he knows.

When you look at how Nick describes people, he always places an adjective before the noun he uses.  This shows his real judgments of people. I don't like that.

Otherwise, I like Nick. He is midwest, probably family-driven but at that swinging single point in his life, and trying to make a mark for himself socially and in his career.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

To me, Nick Carraway is the only really likeable character in the whole book.  He is the only one who seems to be anything other than completely absorbed in himself or (in the case of Gatsby, completely absorbed in a dream that is pure idiocy).

I see Nick this way because he seems to be actually interested in the people around him.  He notices what they are like and does not really want to be like them.  He cannot even bring himself to continue his affair with Jordan Baker even though she is beautiful, sexy, and presumably rich.

Nick actually seems to care about people.  You can see this most clearly in the last chapter.  He tries so hard to get people to come to Gatsby's funeral even though there cannot possibly be anything in it for him.

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