As the novel begins, Nick says that before he went to the East, he had always been a nonjudgmental person because of the advice he had received from his father. His father had told him to not judge others because not everyone had enjoyed the same advantages as Nick. As Nick explains his background and personal history, these advantages become clear. Nick is the son of a "prominant" family in the Midwest, a stable and supporting family. His family is traditional and dependable. Nick had gone to Yale, benefitted from an excellent education, and returned from World War I to his family. When he decided he wanted to go to New York City to learn the bond business, his family, including his extended family members, supported his decision and paid his expenses for a year so that he could get started in his new career.
Nick clearly grew up with many advantages that others lacked. He moved to New York City, a young man who reserved judgment of others; when he returned, however, he had made a strong moral judgment, especially in regard to the Buchanans and their arrogant, selfish, careless, and amoral behavior.