Who is more honest in The Great Gatsby--Nick or Gatsby?I've only read up to chapter six but for some reason I feel like Gatsby is a more honest character because even though he lied about his past...

Who is more honest in The Great Gatsby--Nick or Gatsby?

I've only read up to chapter six but for some reason I feel like Gatsby is a more honest character because even though he lied about his past Nick is almost lying to eveyone. Give one reason.

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mstultz72's profile pic

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

Posted on

The entire novel is framed by Nick, and his characterizations of Gatsby are all done in flashback.  So, it's hard to differentiate between truth and fiction, between honesty and dishonesty, between realism and romance.  All the lines are blurred by Nick, about himself and especially Gatsby.

Nick says, "Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known." (39)

Nick says he dislikes dishonest people, but he is attracted to them throughout the book.  Jordan is a cheater at golf.  Daisy admits she's a hopeless little food.  Gatsby is a fraud and criminal.  Doesn't this mean that Nick is dishonest too?

Jordan says, "I hate careless people.  That's why I like you."  Jordan says she hates careless people ,and yet she's attracted to Nick.  Doesn't this mean that Nick is careless too?

Gatsby's desires are at least focued.  Nick's are not.  Gatsby wants Daisy.  He wants her to admit to her husband that she loves him.  He believes in Daisy, the green light, the American Dream.  He will do whatever it takes to get them: the ends justifies the means.

Nick doesn't know what he wants.  Does he want to live in the East or Midwest?  Does he love Jordan or not?  Does he want to be a broker or not?

I don't think any of them are honest people.  They're all careless.  Careless with cars, with women, with money, with alcohol.  At least Gatsby is honest enough to know what he wants.  At least he's in touch with his id.

 

scarletpimpernel's profile pic

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

Posted on

Obviously, Gatsby is dishonest in some of the stories he tells about his past, but later when Nick flashes back to the time when Gatsby told him about meeting Dan Cody, the reader discovers that Gatsby had told Nick the truth about much of his past.  Gatsby also does not do much to cover his past. Most people know that he is a bootlegger, and he makes it clear to Nick that he and Daisy are having an affair.

Nick is dishonest with himself through much of the novel until the end when he sees Tom and especially Daisy for who they really are. If Nick truly cared about Gatsby, he would not have enabled the relationship with Daisy by lying, providing cover for the two to meet, etc.  And, while Nick does seem to recognize dishonesty in other characters (i.e., Jordan Baker), he fails to realize that he himself is dishonest.  He's cagey about relationships back home and does enough to lead on Jordan Baker or at least to make her think that he is sincerely interested in her.

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