Many believe that Nick is an unreliable narrator, but what are some quotes from "The Great Gatsby" that show this to be true? I can partially understand why he may be considered...

Many believe that Nick is an unreliable narrator, but what are some quotes from "The Great Gatsby" that show this to be true?

I can partially understand why he may be considered unreliable, but I believe that what Nick does tell the reader is fairly dependable. I need some convincing. Thanks

Expert Answers
luannw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Generally, Nick is a reliable narrator, but he is does have emotional involvement in the story and any time that emotions are included, the motives of the narrator are somewhat tainted. Nick starts out the story by telling us why he is privy to so many people's secrets:  he tends to not be judgmental. In the following paragraph, however, he immediately passes judgment by telling us that Gatsby represented everything for which he has "an unaffected scorn".  In his description of Tom, also in the first chapter, he says Tom has a "cruel body".  Again, this is judgmental. Toward the end of the first chapter, as he is leaving Tom's and Daisy's house, he tells us he is "...confused and a little disgusted..." by his visit there.  In chapter 8, Nick's last words to Gatsby are, "They're a rotten crowd.  You're worth the whole damn bunch of them put together."  These are the words of an involved narrator, not an unemotional observer.  Later, in the last chapter, Nick doesn't want to shake Tom's hand because he disapproves of what Tom did that led to Gatsby's murder.  Also, Nick tells us that he went back home to the Midwest because he was disgusted with the people in the East. Again, Nick's emotional involvement keeps him from being a purely observational narrator.  Since he gives his opinion, he cannot be a completely reliable narrator.  What he describes is colored by his opinion.

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The Great Gatsby

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