The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby book cover
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Early in The Great Gatsby, Nick says he doesn't judge people, but isn't the whole book a judgment of his surroundings? Is he just being observant or is he indeed judging people?

The Great Gatsby is indeed a judgment of Nick's surroundings. One could argue that Nick is being both observant and judging people at the same time. This is because he's not just an observer, but an active participant in the events that he relates. Nick isn't by nature a judgmental person, but the characters he meets are so extraordinary that it's impossible not to judge them.

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Nick is a classic first-person unreliable narrator who doesn't know himself as well as he would like to believe. He judges Tom and Daisy—the first his college friend, the second his cousin—as "foul dust" who prey on Gatsby, and he judges Jordan, his would-be love interest, as an incorrigible liar—a blatant piece of projection of his own flaws onto another. He also condemns the whole East as distorted, pitting it in judgment against the snow, Christmas wreaths, and purity of his beloved Midwest.

Nick is a snob, at times, too, who judges Gatsby while also falling under his spell and taking his side. Nick judges Gatsby, for example, for his factual blunders, such as talking about big game hunting in Europe (which would only be done in Africa or India) and saying San Francisco is in the midwest.

Nick comments on honesty as his cardinal virtue. Fitzgerald cues us to see through that observation by placing it right after Nick has admitted he is lying to a girlfriend back home about their...

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