The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What are Nick's outstanding qualities?

Expert Answers info

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write11,093 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Nick says that his "cardinal" or chief virtue is honesty, but it is not. Just prior to making that statement, he mentions that he has not been entirely honest with his girlfriend back home in Chicago, writing her letters when he has no longer has feelings for her. However, if he doesn't see himself entirely clearly (and few of us do), Nick nevertheless has many redeeming qualities.

First, he is a good listener—the kind of person, as he notes, to whom people reveal themselves. Second, he has the sensitivity to appreciate Gatsby. Rather than simply dismissing him as a lower-class grifter and criminal, he can see beneath the surface to the yearnings inside Gatsby's heart that drive him to try to start over again and make things right with Daisy. Nick appreciates and admires Gatsby for daring to have such audacious dreams. He also fully feels the pathos when Gatsby's dream fails.

Nick is commendable, too, for having a moral center. He is genuinely distressed at the unfeeling behavior of Tom and Daisy, people he refers to as "foul dust," and he believes he has to return to the purity of a snow-covered midwest to regain his equilibrium after his brushes with their corruption. Along with his sensitivity and his lyrical way with words, his moral indignation at what he has witnessed makes him a good narrator of Gatsby's story.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial