Why does Nick think Gatsby is a victim in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby?

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Nick considers Gatsby a victim because Tom and Daisy use him. After Gatsby has been killed, Nick sees Tom and speaks to him. Nick asks Tom why he told George Wilson that Gatsby had killed Myrtle. Tom lies and says that it was Gatsby who had killed Myrtle, but it was really Daisy. Tom tells George Wilson that the car that ran over Myrtle Wilson belonged to Gatsby. While this is true, it was Daisy who was driving and who hit Myrtle and killed her. It is then that Nick realizes that Tom and Daisy use people and toss them aside. He thinks the following:

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made . . .

Tom and Daisy have no regard or care for anyone but themselves. They create messes and let others take the fall for them. In the end, they seem devoid of human feeling. After all, they did not attend Gatsby's funeral or even send a note or flowers. It is clear that all they care about is clearing their names and going back to their pampered, sheltered lives. For these reasons, Nick considers Gatsby to have been their victim.

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Nick feels that Gatsby is essentially a good man who's been corrupted by the headlong pursuit of what he wrongly believes will make him happy. In doing so, he's lost his true identity. He's spent so many years trying to be accepted by the social elite that he no longer really knows who he is anymore. Everything about him—his clothing, his accent, his mannerisms—screams a need for acceptance. But the East Egg set will never accept him, as they see him as nothing more than a vulgar parvenu shamelessly trying to buy his way into high society.

Once upon a time, humble James Gatz, a young man hailing from an ordinary Midwestern background, wanted nothing more than to be filthy rich. And so he fell in with a bunch of bootleggers and made a fortune out of illegal hooch. But even with all the phenomenal wealth he earned from his criminal enterprises, Jay could never be happy. He wanted more; he wanted social respectability. But for reasons we've already seen, he couldn't have it. In both cases, Gatsby has become a victim of society's shallow obsession with money and status. And Nick regards this as a tragedy because he knows the real Jay, a man who deserves so much better.

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Early on in the novel, in Chapter 1, Nick explains that he saw Gatsby as a victim of moral decay, and that moral decay clouded up Gatsby's dreams. Nick saw Gatsby as having a particularly "gorgeous" personality, meaning to Nick a personality that is complex and is highly sensitive. More importantly, Nick saw Gatsby as having "an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness" that he had never seen in anyone else and will not likely see ever again. However, unfortunately, the moral indecency of Daisy and Tom plus of anyone else Gatsby needed to associate with in order to pursue his dream of winning Daisy distorted Gatsby's "gorgeous" personality, even leading to his demise. We especially see Nick describing Gatsby as having fallen victim to moral indecency in the passage:

Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men. (Ch. 1)

The phrase "foul dust" refers to dirty, or loathsome dust, which symbolizes moral decay. Hence, when Nick says that "foul dust floated in the wake of [Gatsby's] dreams," he is referring to the moral decay that interfered in his dreams of winning Daisy's love, showing us just how much Nick sees Gatsby as a victim.

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