How does Nick describe Gatsby in Chapter One?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Nick begins the chapter by saying he tries not to judge people. However, he adds that this honest and tolerant approach does have its limitations. When he returns to the Midwest, he says he longed for the world to be in a united "moral attention." (He says this in hindsight. He returns to the Midwest, his home, after all of the events during his stay in New York.)

Nick means that he had experienced a lack of morality while in New York. The only one from that immoral world to whom Nick gives the benefit of the doubt is Gatsby. Nick adds that Gatsby was alright. It was that immoral world which "preyed upon Gatsby" that made Nick want to return to his Midwestern roots. 

Nick says that "there was something gorgeous about him." Nick admires Gatsby's romanticism and idealism. He has scorn for the world that preyed upon Gatsby's hope and idealism. Nick had been very taken with Gatsby. He gives him high praise, saying: 

. . . 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. 

Gatsby's determination to pursue a dream proves his romantic idealism and hope. It makes sense that, in this immoral world, the idealistic Gatsby stood out to Nick. 

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter One, Nick both reflects upon and introduces the main events of the book. Of Gatsby, Nick writes in very positive terms: he states, for example, that he had "something gorgeous about him." Specifically, Gatsby was a hopeful person, a man who dedicated his life to winning back Daisy Buchanan. Nick also notes that he has never encountered this "romantic readiness" in any other person.

But Nick also recognizes the negative aspects of Gatsby's desire for a life with Daisy. He says that this desire "preyed on" Gatsby, for example, and ultimately led to his own destruction.

Later in the chapter, Nick recollects the first time that he ever laid eyes on Gatsby. It is interesting to note that Nick recognized Gatsby without any introduction because of his "leisurely movements" and "secure position of his feet." This foreshadows the pair's close relationship later in the book and implies that Nick was the only person who truly understood Gatsby's character.