Discuss Gatsby’s character as Nick perceives him throughout the novel. What makes Gatsby “great”?

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luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Nick tells us much of the progression of his perception of Gatsby in his opening paragraphs when he says that even though Gatsby "...represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn," by the end of the story, Nick understood and respected Gatsby.  Nick says he comes to understand that Gatsby fell victim to the society in which he lived and to his unattainable dreams.  When Nick first meets Gatsby in chapter 3 at a party at Gatsby's house, Nick notes something about the way Gatsby talks and the way he looks at people that made Gatsby mysterious and not quite legitimate.  When Gatsby takes Nick to lunch, this feeling is further confirmed by Gatsby's obviously rehearsed autobiography.  As the story progresses, Nick catches Gatsby in lies such as when Gatsby said he earned the money to buy his house in just three years.  Nick reminds Gatsby that he'd said he inherited his money and Gatsby quickly changes the subject.  By chapter 8, Nick realizes that Gatsby has done all that he has because of his true, pure, and simple love for Daisy and his unrealistic dream of attaining her.  Nick tells Gatsby with the last words he ever speaks to him, "You're worth the whole damn bunch put together."

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The Great Gatsby

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