What kind of person is Gatsby, as seen through Nick's eyes?  

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slcollins eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Our first clue as to how Nick sees Gatsby comes in chapter one when he says, “No – Gatsby turned out all right in the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby…” (6). This shows us that Nick respects Gatsby and sees him as a victim, the “prey” of others like Daisy and Tom. This very specific word choice plants a seed in our mind that he will be preyed upon by others. We do not recognize the significance of this quote until the end of the novel, when we see how everyone else treats Gatsby.

Nick also sees Gatsby as mysterious when he first encounters him at the end of chapter one. Fitzgerald writes that Gatsby “emerged from the shadows” one minute, and then Nick sees that Gatsby “had vanished” (25-6). The ambiguity of this encounter leaves a very mysterious air about the character of Gatsby. Nick lives next door to him, yet he knows so little about the man.

When Nick finally meets Gatsby in chapter three, he finds the reality of this man to be very surprising. He notes that his speech has an “elaborate formality” to it and that Gatsby seems to be “picking his words with care” (53). This suggests to us that Nick is a bit suspicious of Gatsby’s sincerity or authenticity, since Gatsby is not at all what he had expected.

One more clue, a much more obvious one, lies in the title of the novel. I believe we can infer that Nick thinks very highly of Gatsby from the title The Great Gatsby.

Read the study guide:
The Great Gatsby

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