What are some of the main conflicts that Nick experiences throughout The Great Gatsby?

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Nick, the narrator of The Great Gatsby, goes through the following conflicts:


  • East Coast-bias vs. Midwestern-bias: Nick, who is from Minnesota, thinks that most of those from the Northeast are careless, shallow, and materialstic.  Implicitly, he believes those from the heartland are most honest.  Although he moves to the Northeast in hopes of financial success, he ultimately moves back home.
  • Reserving Judgement vs. Gossiping Later: Nick confesses on the first few pages that he has been taught by his father to reserve all judgment. He also admits he is the only honest person he has ever met.  But, doesn't he reserve judgement so that he can be privy to gossip by those with loose lips?  Isn't the entire novel a kind of gossipy violation of his own principles?
  • American dream: reality vs. myth.   Nick presents two Americas: one of opportunity (Gatsby's); one of exclusivity (Tom's).  In Gatsby, he gives a picture of promise and tragedy.  In the end, after Gatsby's death and Nick's migration back home, we must wonder if he believes the American dream to be a false promise.