Nick And Gatsby Relationship

Describe the friendship between Nick and Gatsby in The Great Gatsby.

Nick and Gatsby's relationship has questionable beginnings, but it grows to reflect a genuine trust and admiration. Gatsby shares with Nick intimate details of his past, and Nick is one of the only people who attends Gatsby's funeral.

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Nick's overall feeling toward Gatsby is captured in the title itself. This book exists as Nick's story of the man he had known and lost: the great Jay Gatsby. As the book opens, Nick willingly admits that Gatsby represents "everything for which [he has] an unaffected scorn." Yet he also finds that Gatsby captured "something gorgeous" in his "heightened sensitivity to the promises of life." Nick is captivated by Gatsby's "gift for hope" and is therefore willing to overlook his shortcomings.

Gatsby is extraordinarily wealthy, so his relationship with Nick is somewhat surprising. His singular goal is to construct his entire life in a manner that will win him the love of Daisy, so one has to wonder if he initially uses Nick because he is Daisy's cousin. Indeed, not long after meeting Nick, Gatsby conveys that he wishes to orchestrate a "chance" meeting at Nick's house, right next door to his own, in order to provide an opportunity to see Daisy. Though his initial motives may be questionable at best, it is clear that Gatsby eventually comes to trust Nick and to value their relationship. On the morning after Myrtle's death, Gatsby confesses to Nick the entire truth of his time spent with Dan Cody and of his former intimacy with Daisy. Gatsby shares touching personal details about how he had fallen in love with her years ago:

He had intended, probably, to take what he could and go—but now he found that he had committed himself to the following of a grail. He knew that Daisy was extraordinary but he didn't realize just how extraordinary a "nice" girl could be. She vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life, leaving Gatsby—nothing. He felt married to her, that was all.

These are not the personal details that one would share with anyone except a trusted friend. Through their time together, Gatsby has connected with Nick in a way that demonstrates his trust and affection for him.

Nick certainly doesn't agree with everything Gatsby does. When they talk in chapter 4, Nick notes that Gatsby's mannerisms indicate that he isn't particularly truthful, such has looking at Nick "sideways" and "choking" on his answers to personal questions. Nick keeps his own personal distance from Gatsby's business transactions with Wolfsheim, yet he is also fascinated that James Gatz has been able to completely reinvent himself through his own dedication to a singular goal. In the end, Nick is one of the only people at Gatsby's funeral, another testament to his true feelings about Gatsby. He scorns all those who were there to help Gatsby spend his money but who disappeared when the fun nights were extinguished. When comparing Gatsby to those with whom he has spent his time that summer, Nick ultimately comes to believe that Gatsby is "worth the whole damn bunch put together."

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The friendship between Nick and Gatsby is rather an intriguing one. The two men do appear to have a genuine regard for each other, but there are hints of ambivalence in their relationship. It could be argued, for instance, that Gatsby essentially uses Nick to get closer to Daisy, Nick being Daisy's cousin, while the friendship on Nick's side is qualified by the fact that he is forever analysing and judging Gatsby. Yet, we cannot overlook the fact that Nick does appear to really admire Gatsby and certainly prefers him to the rest of the shallow, self-serving milieu in which he moves. (In spite of his claim to honesty, Nick can, indeed, be accounted something of a hypocrite, as he continues to move in social circles that he professes to despise.) Gatsby, too, appears quite affectionate towards Nick. There is a telling moment during their very first meeting, at one of Gatsby's parties, when Gatsby greets Nick with a warm smile full of understanding: 'one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance that you may come across four or five times in life' (chapter 3). Gatsby appears to be one of a kind for Nick in the genuine sense of warmth that he projects.

Nick is certainly struck by Gatsby, and likes him, while never relinquishing his role throughout the novel as his most critical observer. As everything in the novel, including Gatsby, is filtered through the consciousness of Nick as narrator, we can never be exactly sure what Gatsby is thinking, what his ideas and motives really are, and this poses a bit of a problem when trying to assess the friendship between him and Nick. However, we can say with some confidence what attracts Nick to Gatsby; he sees right through the more superficial social side of him, straight through to his dreams and ideals. For Nick at least, Gatsby pursues a worthy goal in trying to reclaim the happiness and love of his past with Daisy, even if he goes about things the wrong way by stacking up his wealth and social status in order to try and impress her. But the very fact of him having a dream, an ideal, to pursue, is what makes him admirable in Nick's eyes and quite different from most other people who are simply greedy, selfish, and materialistic.

In short, Nick, himself a sober realist for the most part, is attracted to Gatsby's sense of romantic idealism which elevates life:

there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promise of life ..... it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. (chapter I)

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