How does Nick's character evolve in The Great Gatsby?

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Throughout The Great Gatsby, Nick changes from a man fascinated by the lavish lifestyle of wealthy New-Yorkers such as Gatsby to someone who recognizes the cruelty, superficiality, and classism of this society and ultimately misses the simplicity and wholesomeness of the Midwest, which he longed to escape when he came to New York.

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At the beginning of Nick's reminiscence of the summer he met Gastby, he has "small-town syndrome."   He had just returned to Middle America (America's heartland and the center of conservative living) from WWI, where he had glimpsed everything from freedom to death.  His horizons had been broadened significantly, so when he returned after the war, he felt stifled in the Midwest; thus his longing for the decadent and fantastic lifestyle of New York, but the problem with the fantastic is that it rarely has anything to offer beneath the surface. 

When he first arrives in New York, Nick is fascinated by the lives of the wealthy and the freedom they embody (including freedom from responsibility, evidently).  However, as the novel progresses, he sees the impact of this behavior on the lives of others; he recognizes the atrocities that the elite of society commit toward those they consider beneath them (i.e. Tom's abuse of Myrtle Wilson; Tom's treatment of George Wilson; Tom and Daisy's method of dealing with Daisy killing Myrtle; Tom ultimately setting Gatsby up to be killed and not feeling any remorse).

By his thirtieth birthday, Nick realizes that this crazy, superficial lifestyle is not what he desires at all, and that he misses the wholesomeness of the Middlewest.  In this sense, Nick becomes rather representative of the 1920s: the turmoil and free living of the early part of the decade leading into the conservative 1930s. 

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Nick Carraway belilevs himself to be a nonjudgemental person in the novel. Yet, he realizes he must be guilty of judgement to some extent when he is surprised by his fascination with Gatsby, who he comes to realize is someone he never would have associated with. Nick begins to see that some "shady" characters really have a better code of honor, than those of the "elite", such as Tom and Daisy Buchanan.

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Nick is a newcomer to New York at the beginning of the novel, having come from the Midwest, where life is characterized by innocence and simplicity.  Young and attractive, he befriends Jordan Baker, Jay Gatsby, and is reunited with his cousin Daisy.  As one of the "beautiful people" he "succumbs to the lavish recklessness of his neighbors and the knowledge of the secret moral entanglements that comprise their essentially hollow lives".   He differs from Gatsby in that, being a realist, he is completely aware of his loss of innocence, watching himself "driving toward death in the cooling twilight".*

(Quotes from enotes link cited below)

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How does Nick Carraway alter his identity throughout The Great Gatsby?

Nick Carraway is the narrator, and Gatsby's story is told through Nick's eyes. At the same time, readers can follow Nick's character changes from the beginning of the story, when he is a young man coming east to seek freedom, to the end of the story, when, mature and jaded, Nick decides to return to the Midwest and settle down. We can say that Nick is a dynamic character, because he changes through the events of the story, and we can follow his character arc, or the track of those changes.

In Chapter One, Nick discusses his decision leave his home in the Midwest and go east to learn the bond business. Nick was happy in his small-town home until he went away to fight in the First World War. When he came back, he felt restless.

"Instead of being the warm centre of the world, the Middle West now seemed like the ragged edge of the universe — so I decided to go East and learn the bond business."

We can infer that Nick was a naïve young man; he couldn't have seen much during the war, since his war experience made him restless rather than giving him PTSD.

Through the next few chapters, Nick remains curious about the parties going on next door and their host. There are a lot of rumors about Gatsby, and Nick doesn't seem to have an opinion about them. When Gatsby offers Nick an opportunity to make a bit of extra money working for him, Nick respectfully declines:

"I realize now that under different circumstances that conversation might have been one of the crises of my life. But, because the offer was obviously and tactlessly for a service to be rendered, I had no choice except to cut him off there."

Nick is an honest guy in Chapter Five, and although he doesn't seem to mind his neighbor being involved in perhaps illegal business, he doesn’t want to get involved himself. This quote shows that, looking back, he knows this was a bigger deal than he understood it to be at the time. This shows that in Chapter Five, Nick is still naïve.

At the end of the novel, Nick realizes that the East is just a big circus, and that the only person with any integrity is his lovelorn criminal friend, Gatsby. In Chapter Eight, he says to Gatsby, "They’re a rotten crowd...You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together." This shows that Nick sees everyone in the east as rotten, and sees Gatsby as good.

At the end of the novel, Nick's final words are, "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past," showing that after everything that happened, Nick has become cynical. He started out the novel chasing a dream, the dream to escape the dreary life of a Midwest town and seek new experiences, and at the end of the novel he feels that dreams are nothing but reflections of feelings brought on by past experiences that we can never relive, no matter how hard we strive. Perhaps Nick's brief war experience gave him a sense of adventure that he wanted to relive with his foray to the east, but his experience with Gatsby showed him that New York City is a criminal playground and that he belonged back home with his family who loved him.

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How does Nick Carraway develop as a character and as the narrator in The Great Gatsby?

Ironically, Nick Carraway as a character becomes involved in the moral ambiguity of the wealthy East Coast and inadvertently, perhaps, he himself assumes some of the faults for which he criticizes the other characters. In fact, his complete honesty is questionable even from the beginning.

  • Before commencing his narrative, Nick endeavors to establish his moral uprightness and his ancestral legitimacy:

The Carraways...have a tradition that we're descended from the Dukes of Cuccleuch....

Further, he proudly provides more family history, stating he graduated from Yale twenty-five years after his father's graduation and that his "prestigious" family made its fortune in the "wholesale hardware business."

  • In contrast to his declaration of legitimacy and moral standing, it is as a participant in the narrative that Nick's character is truly revealed. For, even though it was "a matter of chance" that he rents a house near his cousin Daisy Buchanan, there are certainly nuances of Nick's pride that he is in such "consoling proximity of millionaires."
  • In another instance, when Nick accompanies Tom Buchanan on the train with his mistress Myrtle, his own actions become morally questionable as he seems complicit with Tom's adultery, and he himself becomes involved in an incident that is morally ambiguous: He takes the elevator with Mr. McKee to his room and then Nick narrates,

....[with these ellipsis dots here, he obviously omits something] I was standing beside his bed and he was sitting up between the sheets, clad in his underwear,....

After this description, Nick states that he rode the four o'clock train "half asleep," indicating that he was awake much of the night with Mr. McKee.

  • Despite declaring himself in Chapter Three as "one of the few honest people that I have ever known," Nick becomes involved with Jordan Baker, whom he remembers as having cheated in a golf tournament. This apparent hypocrisy on Nick's part hints at what Jordan observes about him in Chapter Nine; namely, that he, too, is a "bad driver." Furthermore, although Nick has stated that he follows his father's advice of being careful about criticizing others who have not had his moral advantages, and he asserts that he is "inclined to reserve all judgments," Nick spends part of his narration judging others:
  1. He introduces his narrative account by stating that although he exempts Gatsby from his reaction against "privileged glimpses into the human heart," he still represents "everything for which I have an unaffected scorn."
  2. He states that Jordan Baker is "incurably dishonest."
  3. When Gatsby relates his past to him, Nick wonders if there is not "something a little sinister about him after all."
  4. After Mrytle Wilson's death, he declares Daisy and Tom Buchanan "careless people" who "smashed up things" and then "retreated into their money."
  • Certainly, then, Nick is not the objective narrator that he initially declares himself. Moreover, he is not the morally upright person that he perceives himself; for, he retreats to the Midwest in the end, hoping to reclaim some of the values which he has abandoned.  Yet, despite his moral fraility and judgmental attitude, Nick has learned ethical lessons and lost his cynicism.: "I'm thirty...I'm five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor" and he leaves his readers with a note of hope as he describes America as a great land of promise. 
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How does Gatsby change throughout the novel The Great Gatsby?

Throughout F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, Gatsby changes by slowly realizing his dream is an illusion while still clinging to it. Before the events of the novel, Gatsby had already been through some significant transformations. He grew up the son of a poor family in North Dakota and worked his way up to become a well-known figure in the new money society of West Egg. He is determined to be good enough for the woman he is in love with, Daisy Buchanan, and throws lavish parties in his mansion in the hopes that she will one day come to one. But Daisy is a member of the old-money society of East Egg and she has a child with her husband, Tom. Although she once loved Gatsby, it is not a realistic idea that they will one day be together.

Despite all of the signs that his dream is an illusion, Gatsby becomes increasingly idealistic throughout the book that he will be with Daisy again. As they reconnect and have a spark again, he begins to believe that she will leave Tom and be with him. Not only that, but recall the scene in the Plaza Hotel in which Gatsby tells Tom that Daisy is leaving him. He has this whole idea that Daisy has never loved Tom at all and has just been waiting for him all this time, which is not true. Daisy tells Gatsby that he wants too much from her and that she cannot say she never loved Tom. This shakes Gatsby, and he finally starts to see his illusion shatter. Yet he still cannot completely let go. When Daisy hits Myrtle with the car, Gatsby takes the fall for her and this leads to his own murder.

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How does Nick change and grow as a person in The Great Gatsby?

In The Great Gatsby, Nick, according to his own self-evaluation, moves to Long Island full of naive hopes of making it in the bond market and is infused with faith in people. He leaves shattered because of his disillusionment over what tragically happens to Gatsby. In fact, as he says at the beginning of the novel, Gatsby is the only person whom he still believes in amid the "foul dust" that has surrounded him.

Nick is disillusioned because his wealthy friends Tom and Daisy behave so coldly, throwing Gatsby away to save themselves after Daisy runs over and kills Myrtle. Nick is sickened by the cynical way they let Gatsby take the blame for what happens while they "retreat" back into their money and let others clean up their mess.

All of these events lead Nick to reevaluate his life. He grows as he retreats back to the Midwest, a symbol of purity to him, and turns away from cynical, empty people. He learns to value dreamers like Gatsby, who never give up, no matter how futile their aspirations.

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How does Nick Carraway change throughout the book???

On the first pages of the novel, Nick says that his father advised him not to judge people.  However, his judgements are present throughout as he falls in with Gatsby and his circle and his cousin Daisy and hers.  Towardst the beginning of the book Nick seems to judge Gatsby as a fake.  He notices that Gatsby uses a stilted and purposeful manner of speech that is the hallmark of someone trying too hard.  When he talks about his heroics in the war, he quickly pulls out a medal awarded to him by the country of Montenegro.  When he talks about this time at Oxford, he presents a photograph as proof.  Nick sees through Gatsby's facade.

Nick does, however, act as a go-between in Gatsby's campaign to win Daisy back.  But after the revelation of their affair and Myrtle's untimely death, Nick realizes that it's really Tom and Daisy who are the phonies.  They are "careless" people who enter and ruin the lives of their innocent victims.  The last time Nick sees Gatsby before his death he says that Gatsby is better than the "whole lot" of the others.

Nick's realization and inability to reserve judgement are evidence of a profound change of character.

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How does Nick evolve as a narrator/character throughout The Great Gatsby?

When Nick arrives on the east coast, he has ideas about becoming sophisticated. He even thinks he may become an intellectual. However, as the novel progresses, Nick finds himself identifying with Jay Gatsby.

Nick brings a certain naivete with him to the east, but this innocence of perspective is irrevocably damaged by his experiences in the rich sets of East Egg and West Egg. 

He muses on the loss of his innocence and youth when he is with her on his thirtieth birthday and sees himself driving on a road “toward death through the cooling twilight.” 

Increasingly, Nick finds that the values Gatsby represents (intentionally and unintentionally) are more worthwhile than those represented by the other people Nick encounters (Tom, Daisy, Jordan, etc.). 

Nick comes to see Gatsby as a dreamer who has managed to keep some of his innocence intact. Gatsby believes that he can recapture the past, that he can have a true love with Daisy after all that has gone on, and he refuses to compromise his vision in favor of prudence or practicality. He insists on his dream.

Gatsby is fixated on achieving a very specific and romantic goal. He does not see himself the way others see him, as a bootlegger, a "social striver", and a farce.

His ignorance of his real greatness and misunderstanding of his notoriety endear him to Nick, who tells him he is better than the “whole rotten bunch put together.”

Nick's changing attitudes regarding Gatsby demonstrate the ways that his character evolves. Valuing sophistication and glamour initially, Nick comes to appreciate the elusive virtue of the dedicated dreamer - plain innocence. 

In order for Nick to come to recognize this quality in Gatsby, he has to sift through the lies and the pretense of Gatsby's life, while doing the same regarding Daisy, Jordan, and Tom. This requires a greater willingness to suspend judgement than Nick begins with. It also requires an ability to empathize. 

Empathy, for Nick, is a trait that he implicitly claims from the outset but which really only emerges in Nick after he begins to see the complexities of Jay Gatsby's character. 

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In The Great Gatsby, how did the character Nick change as a result of his experiences in the novel?

This is a hard question to answer. Nick is the narrator of the novel but possibly the most elusive character after Gatsby himself. He starts the novel as an earnest young man from the Midwest, but ends up more cynical as a result of his interactions with Gatsby, Daisy, Tom, and Jordan.

Nick comes to admire Gatsby the most. Even though Gatsby is not an honest man and early on Nick claims Gatsby represents everything he hates, Nick sympathizes with Gatsby's earnest hope in pursuing his dreams and a better tomorrow. Something about Gatsby's hopeless optimism touches Nick, as can be seen in the last lines of the novel:

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning—— So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

These last few lines are themselves elusive. Is Nick being ironic and cynical? Or does he too believe in the green light and the American Dream, in spite of everything he has experienced?

How then, does Nick change? Well, he definitely loses his desire to live the fast life on the East Coast, disgusted by Daisy, Tom, and Jordan's amoral ways. He's returning to the Midwest and presumably the honest lifestyle which holds sway there. But Nick remains an enigma, unable to belong in the decadent East and possibly also unable to reintegrate himself to the simpler Midwest, since Jordan claims Nick has lost his honesty.

The most one can say is that Nick is no longer interested in the high life of the rich and that he is more disenchanted after his experiences.

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In The Great Gatsby, how did the character Nick change as a result of his experiences in the novel?

Nick Carraway is one of the enigmas of the novel, The Great Gatsby. He is the narrator of the story, but reveals little about himself. At the beginning, he is honest. He grew up in Chicago, graduated from Yale, enjoys literature, and works in the bond business in New York. Nick is not rich; however, he has connections to the wealthy and socially elite, like Daisy and Tom.

By the end of the novel, he has been tarnished by Gatsby's world and has paid a dear price for it. He has sacrificed his honesty and high standards by hobnobbing with Gatsy, Daisy, and Tom. After his fling with Jordan, she accuses him of losing his honesty.

Nick is worried about being alone, and at the end of the novel, that is exactly what he is--alone. One of his worst fears has been realized. Nick vows West Egg and New York are no place for him, and he vows to leave.

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