The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Why Does Gatsby Tell Nick About His Life

In The Great Gatsby, why does Gatsby tell Nick about his life?Does Nick believe him?

Nick is one of the few people who shows a genuine interest in becoming friends with Gatsby, and Gatsby wants Nick's approval. For this reason, he feels a desire for Nick to know him. But Gatsby also wants Nick to believe the wealthy persona and background that Gatsby has invented about himself as a way of making it real.

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Chapter IV when Nick and Gatsby ride together into New York, Gatsby tells Nick about his past, in Gatsby's words "something about my life." He then tells Nick of his wealthy Midwestern family background and his Oxford education--a family tradition, he said. When his family died, he inherited "a good deal of money" that allowed him to travel throughout the European capitals where he collected jewels, hunted big game, painted, and tried to escape a sad, sad memory. His story continued as he recounted his military service in World War I and his decoration for heroism, a medal presented to him by Montenegro.

Throughout his recitation, Nick found Gatsby's speech and manner to be laughable; in fact, he had to make an effort to keep from laughing aloud. Nick found Gatsby's story to be beyond belief, including his birth in that famous Midwestern city, San Francisco. Nick was convinced that Gatsby's whole story was one lie upon another, until the end of it when Gatsby showed Nick two of his souvenirs: a photo of himself at Oxford and the medal from Montenegro. Both seemed very authentic, to Nick's complete astonishment, and convinced him that Gatsby's story was "all true." We find later that parts of it were true, at least.

Gatsby shared information about his life because he wanted Nick to think well of him. As Gatsby said, "I don't want you to get a wrong idea of me from all these stories you hear." As Chapter IV continues, we find out why. Gatsby wants a reunion with Daisy Buchanan, and he wants Nick to arrange their meeting.

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udonbutterfly | Student

I think Gatsby tells Nick his "story" because he is looking for some type of recognition and/ or approval from Nick. Just like how Gatsby uses his parties to gain attention and recognition from Daisy with his riches him telling his impressive story to Nick was no different in away. Almost as if Gatsby wants his story to garner approval for himself to be with Daisy. Although Nick doesn't believe him in the beginning because the story seemed to fabricated and wonky how ever he starts to second guess that until Gatsby shows him a picture from his college days.