The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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What type of family does Nick Carraway come from in The Great Gatsby?

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Nick Carraway, the narrator of the novel The Great Gatsby , comes from the Midwest from a wealthy but unaspiring family. His family has been wealthy for several generations, at least since the Civil War, and they come from royalty—a line of Dukes. His family, which is expansive in the Midwest, settled in the area and had enjoyed a comfortable, quiet life there. In spite of the comfort, Nick aspires to be a bond investor and so moves to New York to get a jump into business and investing.

His family owns a wholesale hardware business that has brought them much wealth and success, and in the story, they are wealthy enough to finance a whole year of Nick’s expenses in New York for him to get on his feet. When he is unsuccessful and fairly traumatized from the events surrounding Gatsby’s life and death, he moves back home. He takes up a comfortable life working alongside his family.

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In the opening lines of The Great Gatsby, the reader learns that the narrator, Nick Carraway, comes from a privileged background. His father, Nick remembers, once told him that he should "remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you have had." He goes on to describe his family as "prominent, well-to-do people" in a midwestern city. Their family wealth, comfortable but not spectacular, is derived from a hardware business begun by his great uncle and continued through another generation by Nick's father. Nick also received an Ivy League education, another marker of wealth and privilege in the early twentieth century (he says he went to "New Haven," the location of Yale University), before going to fight in the First World War. He suggests that his decision to move to New York to try to make a living in the "bond business" is met with some consternation by his older family members.

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The novel's narrator, Nick Carraway, hails from a prominent, well-to-do midwestern family and describes the Carraways as something of a clan. Nick mentions that his family has lived in the Midwest for three generations and are descendants of the Dukes of Buccleuch. Nick's family has been wealthy since the Civil War, when his grandfather’s brother established a wholesale hardware business that his father continues to run to this day. Nick Carraway is fortunate enough to attend college at New Haven in 1915 and decides to move to New York City and enter the bond business after returning from Europe at the end of the Great War. Nick's family is also wealthy enough to finance him for a year in New York, where he ends up hanging out with his extremely wealthy second cousin once removed, Daisy Buchanan. After his traumatic experiences on the East Coast, Nick ends up moving back home to the Midwest, where life is slower and the people are more genuine.

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Nick Carraway, the narrator of Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, is from a wealthy midwestern family. There is a family legend that they are descended from British royalty, but their wealth and success go back to the Civil War. Nick's great-uncle paid a substitute to fight for him in the Civil War, and allowing him to begin a hardware dynasty. Nick's father carries on the family business. The family has been around long enough not to be considered nouveau riche, but in any other place but America, they would hardly be considered landed gentry. Nevertheless, they seem very full of themselves. Nick's father has told him,"just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages you've had" (5). When Nick decides he wants to go to New York and be in the bond business, his father provides him a year's support. 

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