How does Nick change throughout the novel The Great Gatsby?
Throughout The Great Gatsby, Nick changes from a man fascinated by the lavish lifestyle of wealthy New-Yorkers such as Gatsby to someone who recognizes the cruelty, superficiality, and classism of this society and ultimately misses the simplicity and wholesomeness of the Midwest, which he longed to escape when he came to New York.
At the beginning of Nick's reminiscence of the summer he met Gastby, he has "small-town syndrome." He had just returned to Middle America (America's heartland and the center of conservative living) from WWI, where he had glimpsed everything from freedom to death. His horizons had been broadened significantly, so when he returned after the war, he felt stifled in the Midwest; thus his longing for the decadent and fantastic lifestyle of New York, but the problem with the fantastic is that it rarely has anything to offer beneath the surface.
When he first arrives in New York, Nick is fascinated by the lives of the wealthy and the freedom they embody (including freedom from responsibility, evidently). However, as the novel progresses, he sees the impact of this behavior on the lives of others; he...
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Nick's perspective is important to understanding how he changes throughout the novel. We get Nick in a flashback at the beginning, he looks back on all he learned in the summer he spent in New York with Gatsby, Daisy, etc. This is a somewhat mature version of Nick that we see, he recognizes his own growth, his own morals, and how the people he spent the summer with fit into his view of the world.
We see Nick start as an outsider to the New York way of life. He doesn't know who Gatsby is, and in New York then everyone knew Gatsby, or at least knew of his parties. He brings the reader into his perspective with this outsider view, and through the changes he goes through, the reader also starts to understand the world of Jay Gatsby, and the intricacies behind the man.
What changes in Nick? By the end of the novel, he is tired, worn out, seen too much of life for one summer and cannot stay in New York any longer, he has seen too much and wants "the world to stand at a sort of moral attention forever."
It is Nick's underlying tiredness that changes and comes out throughout the course of the novel.