In The Great Gatsby, describe the ambiguity in Nick's initial descriptions of Gatsby in chapter 1.

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The first chapter of The Great Gatsby contains Nick's initial descriptions and insight into his future friend, Jay Gatsby. What is interesting is that he doesn’t seem all that fond of Gatsby or at least of what he represents. In fact, he clearly states that Gatsby "represented everything for which [I] had unaffected scorn."

This would seem to show that Nick would not like Gatsby, but they clearly become friends, and, in fact, later in the chapter he says that Gatsby "turned out alright in the end." What ingratiated Gatsby to Nick was his sheer romanticism. While the wealth and excess are initially off-putting, his overwhelming passion and devotion to Daisy and his willingness to use all of his extravagance to that end changes Nick's perception of him.

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On the one hand, Nick  says that Gatsby “represented everything” for which he had “an unaffected scorn."  At the same time, he finds in him “something gorgeous,” a dream quality with “some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life.”  This sets up the ambiguity in Nick's description because it is a paradox.  Nick sees Gatsby as a racketeer, which morally goes against everything that Nick represents, but also he see Gatsby as an "incurable romantic" who acquired his corrupted wealth for the sole purpose of winning Daisy's love.  The ambiguity is that Nick detests the ill-gotten wealth in most, but in Gatsby, he sees him as a great man and tells him that he is worth the “whole rotten bunch put together.”

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Nick discusses Gatsby twice in Chapter I, in the beginning of the novel and at the conclusion of the chapter. His first references seem both ambiguous and contradictory. He points out that in some way he thoroughly disapproved of Gatsby: "[he] represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn." However, Nick adds that "Gatsby turned out all right at the end." The only clues Nick gives us in understanding this contradiction are Gatsby's "extraordinary gift for hope" and his "romantic readiness."

Nick sees Gatsby for the first time at the end of Chapter I. Gatsby stands alone on his lawn, reaching out "in a curious way" toward the ocean and a green light across the bay. It appears to Nick that Gatsby trembles. Again, Nick's description of Gatsby creates many questions for the reader. Gatsby is presented as a mystery from the very beginning of the novel.

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