What role does Owl Eyes play in "The Great Gatsby"?

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Owl Eyes plays the role of the wise seer or perceiver. Nick meets him in Gatsby's library the first time Nick attends one of Gatsby's grand parties. While the other guests trade wild rumors about their host, Owl Eyes actually looks at the evidence that Gatsby's home offers about him. At the end of the novel, Owl Eyes is the only partygoer other than Nick to attend Gatsby's funeral. Owl Eyes, seemingly, is the only person other than Nick to see Gatsby for his true, if flawed, humanity.


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"Owl Eyes," as his name indicates, plays the role of the wise seer or perceiver in the novel. Nick meets him in Gatsby's library the first time Nick attends one of Gatsby's grand parties. While the other guests are busy trading wild rumors about their host, Owl Eyes, though somewhat drunk, is actually looking at the evidence that Gatsby's home offers about him.

Owl Eyes's drunkenness causes him to say more than he might have otherwise. He indicates that he believes Gatsby to be a fraud when he expresses surprise that Gatsby's books are not merely cardboard. He goes so far as to take one of the...

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What role does Owl Eyes play in "The Great Gatsby"?

Owl Eyes plays the role of an onlooker in The Great Gatsby, one who provides an outsider perspective. He first appears in the third chapter of the novel, when Nick finds him drunk in Gatsby's library. The description of Owl Eyes reveals his symbolism. Owls are wise, all-knowing creatures - his revelations are a clue for readers. The glasses reveal a clarity and echo the billboard's all-seeing eyes. His presence stands to share a truth.

The man is astonished to find Gatsby's books are not made of cardboard. In his reaction, he proclaims "What realism!" The comment highlights the artificiality of Gatsby's lifestyle; it's staged. Additionally, he tells Nick and Jordan that he went to the library because he has been drunk for a week and wanted to sober up. His desire to pull away from the debauchery and take refuge in fact mirrors Nick's ultimate desire to leave behind the partying and falsehoods of the Jazz Age's wealthy elite by the end of the novel.

Owl Eyes appears again at the end of the work, at Gatsby's funeral. Gatsby's funeral has few people in attendance, and this man's attendance and commentary reveals how few people understood Gatsby as a person. Owl eyes removes his glasses and wipes the raindrops from them; a symbolic reference his mental clarity. He then tells Nick that Gatsby is a "poor son-of-a-bitch," revealing that those who can see the whole picture of Gatsby's tale should be empathetic rather than judgmental - the same lesson Nick warrants at the beginning and closing of the novel.