Nick is both part of the action and acting as an objective narrator of The Great Gatsby. Does this narration style work?   

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is more intriguing because the reader learns gradually about Jay Gatsby through the narrator, Nick Carraway.

Early in his narrative, Nick tells his audience that he is "inclined to reserve all judgments." So the reader learns of Gatsby gradually through the narration of Nick, who views Gatsby at first as a man with a romanticized view of life. It is not until Chapter Four that Nick really begins to understand this romantic American hero when Gatsby is "delivered suddenly from the womb of his purposeless splendor." Gatsby relates the story of his past with several historic errors, which indicates to Nick that Gatsby has social ambitions and romantic dreams—which he has bound to material values. Jay Gatsby has surrendered his youthful visionary hopes to material acquisition, and Daisy is part of this acquisition.

With Nick as the sole connection to all the main characters--"he holds all the threads in his hands" (eNotes)--the reader gradually learns of Jay Gatz and the relationships between the main personages of Fitzgerald's novel. The narrative style of The Great Gatsby is, therefore, effective, as it generates a tale that is at first romanticized but then winds to its tragic end.


dneshan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This narration styles works to an extent. In terms of the reader, he/she gets all of the information that he/she could possibly need because Nick is a part of the book's actions, interacts throughout the novel, and has such a stron and trusting connection to so many of the characters. Therefore, he is able to present the reader with an abundant amount of information that he has accumulated from the other characters through discussions and other interactions, i.e. the parties. However, because he has this strong connection with characters and because he is being given thr information from other sources, it is difficult to say whether or not the reader is always being given the truth from Nick. Nick does make a point of telling the reader that he is "one of the few honest people" that he has ever known, but it is debatable whether or not the information that he accumulates is always true.

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The Great Gatsby

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