The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby book cover
Start Your Free Trial

In The Great Gatsby, what does Nick mean in this passage? "I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life."

When Nick says "I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life" in The Great Gatsby, he means that the fashionable lifestyle of Tom, Myrtle, and their party guests is both alluring and repulsive to him. This feeling can be extended to represent his views on his life in the East.

Expert Answers info

Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write10,306 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

In chapter 2, Tom Buchanan takes Nick with him into New York City, where he meets up with his mistress, Myrtle Wilson and invites people over to his apartment for a party. During the party, Nick feels out of place and is extremely uncomfortable. He begins drinking whiskey and attempts to leave the apartment several times but becomes entangled in a conversation each time he attempts to leave. Nick then acknowledges that he feels like a stranger standing outside, wondering what is taking place in the apartments above. He goes on to state,

I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.

Nick's comment illustrates his conflicting feelings about the immoral, extravagant lifestyles of the Buchanans and the elite members of society. Nick is a relatively humble man who hails from the Midwest and is both attracted and appalled by his experience in the East. As a guest at Tom's party, Nick is an active participant yet feels removed from the other...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 884 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Thomas Mccord eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write2,306 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Susan Hurn eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write2,150 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial


bgboss | Student

wow way to spoil it