In The Great Gatsby, how is Nick a dynamic character?What are three or more examples of change in Nick throughout the novel? Specific answers, please.

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Despite the fact that Gatsby "represented everything for which [Nick has] an unaffected scorn," he came to think of Gatsby almost as an innocent because of his optimism and hopefulness. He says that

Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.

In other words, not only does Nick change by learning to admit that there can be exceptions to his judgment—he believes that Gatsby was a lot more than "all right"—but he also describes the way his experiences in New York made him lose interest in other people and their problems for a while.

Moreover, Nick's feelings toward Tom Buchanan change, during the novel, as well. Although he never thought Tom was a saint, or even a good person, in the end, he "'object[s] to shaking hands'" with his cousin's husband, telling him, "'You know what I think of you.'" He now thinks of them both as "careless people" who destroy things and then leave others to clean up their messes.

In the end, Nick seems to have lost faith in the American Dream. He says,

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning—

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Although he must have had more optimism in the beginning—after all, he moves to NYC from the Midwest, going into finance with some hope of making his way in the world—ultimately, he leaves without having gained much other than a heavy dose of cynicism.

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We can see Nick Carroway change in various ways over the course of The Great Gatsby. Many of Nick's changes relate to his relationships and his views on the people in his small circle of friends. 

Nick carries on a rather bloodless romance with Jordan Baker, believing that he will marry her. The two share a sense of ironic distance from the rest of the upper class set that gathers at Gatsby's parties. This ironic distance, in the end, proves to be temporary for Nick but not for Jordan. While she maintains an emotional distance from Gatsby and his tragedy, Nick grows into a sympathy for Gatsby.

In this sympathy, Nick almost comes to identify with Gatsby, coming to think that Gatsby was the best of the whole lot, worth mourning when he is dead. As he was at the opening of the novel, Nick would have probably belonged to the ranks of those who refrained from attending Gatby's funeral. However, due to his changes in feeling and his expanded ability to withhold judgement, Nick ends up organizing the funeral. 

This last change may be the most important one for Nick. Learning to be honest and to see in himself the negative qualities that he sees in others, Nick finds a maturity that he did not possess when he moved to the east. Though this is a maturity that does not characterize Gatsby, it serves to bring Nick closer to Gatsby. He begins the novel like Tom and Daisy, but ends identifying with the wealthy bootlegger. 

 At the novel's end, most readers find that Nick is more akin to Gatsby than to any other character in the book. 

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The Great Gatsby

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