Why did Fitzgerald choose to write The Great Gatsby through the narrative of Nick Carraway?

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The narrative choice of this novel is a particularly interesting one because the two major characters, Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby, both have been said to represent different aspects of the character of the author, Fitzgerald himself. It is often difficult, however, for a reader to sometimes remember that the narrator is not the same as the author, and that the reader must never confuse the two voices. Fitzgerald created the character of Nick Carraway as an innocent, an outsider from the West who enters the East and is able to report what he sees and experiences. Whilst Nick does bear some significant similarities with his creator, in that Fitzgerald, too, entered the East from the West, there are also significant differences, in that whereas Fitzgerald was swept away by the glamour of the Jazz Age unreservedly, Nick is much more nuanced in his response, finding himself equally drawn to and disgusted by the excesses he participates in and is witness to.

Nick demonstrates this tension between attraction and repulsion through his relationship with Jordan Baker. Note the following quote that comes at the end of the novel when he says his farewells:

When I had finished she told me without comment that she was engaged to another man. I doubted that, though there were several she could have married at a nod of her head, but I pretended to be surprised. For just a minute I wondered if I wasn't making a mistake, then I thought it all over again quickly and got up to say goodbye.

Even though he leaves "half in love" with Jordan, he is repulsed by her deception and lies and pretense. The narration of this story by Nick therefore allows Fitzgerald to explore the Jazz Age through the eyes of an observer, an outsider, and in particular to explore the way that the Jazz Age was on the one hand exciting and thrilling, but on the other hollow at its core.

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The Great Gatsby

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