Written in a 5-page response: We've discussed a lot how in this novel we see everything through Nick's eyes. Nowhere is this clearer than on page 161 in the paragraph that begins "No telephone message arrived . . ." Nick imagines what Gatsby might have been thinking at this moment, but it's really close to what Nick might have been thinking. How does this moment reveal the difference between these two men in the way in which they live their lives? What is Gatsby capable of doing that Nick is not capable of doing? Which character do you think Fitzgerald wants us to be more "attracted" to?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This moment seems to reveal Nick's developing cynicism, contrasted with Gatsby's seemingly eternal optimism. One of the last things Gatsby said to Nick was, "'I suppose Daisy 'll call too.' He looked at [Nick] anxiously, as if he hoped [Nick would] corroborate this." Nick wasn't sure then that...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

This moment seems to reveal Nick's developing cynicism, contrasted with Gatsby's seemingly eternal optimism. One of the last things Gatsby said to Nick was, "'I suppose Daisy'll call too.' He looked at [Nick] anxiously, as if he hoped [Nick would] corroborate this." Nick wasn't sure then that she would, and he later attributes his doubt to Gatsby. He says,

I have an idea that Gatsby himself didn't believe [the call] would come, and perhaps he no longer cared. If that was true he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream.

It seems completely unlike Gatsby to no longer care about whether or not Daisy calls. He has done everything in order to be permanently reunited with her, and it seems that he would do absolutely anything for her, including taking the blame for the death of Myrtle Wilson, who Daisy hit and killed with Gatsby's car. How could he no longer care? It must be Nick who no longer cares if it works about between Gatsby and Daisy because, as he said to Gatsby earlier, "'They're a rotten crowd [...]. You're worth the whole damn bunch put together.'" It isn't Gatsby who has given up on Daisy but, rather, Nick who has given up on everyone but Gatsby. Gatsby has always been capable of keeping his dream alive, of not losing his childlike innocence, something at which Nick has not been as successful; his disillusionment after the war is what brought him to New York in the first place.

Ultimately, then, I think we are supposed to find Gatsby to be more attractive than Nick. Gatsby's "romantic readiness," an optimism and dreaminess that makes him "gorgeous," is what Nick admires and even loves about him, and Gatsby is able to hold on to these qualities until the last, and this makes him, as the title claims, truly "Great."

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team