Commentary on One Character in the Great Gatsby – Nick Carraway
Nick Carraway contributes to the Great Gatsby as the unbiased narrator. The tragic love story of 1922 is accounted through Nick’s eyes, with Nick serving as an observer of the relationship between the characters, in particular Gatsby and Daisy’s, the main lovers of the story. Nick’s retrospective view of the story emphasizes his dynamic character as his thoughts and perceptions of the characters display his loyalty towards Gatsby, and justice and honesty towards the judgement of events, though it is seen by the end of the story that his moral values have been debased by the shallow and corrupted lifestyle of the East.
The Great Gatsby is told entirely through Nick’s perspective; this can be said that he is observing the events of the story instead of being involved in it directly. Nick can be seen as a trustworthy narrator, as he learned from his father that he should be ‘inclined to reserve all judgements. ’ Furthermore, Nick takes pride in his honesty, ‘I am one of the few honest people I have ever known. ’ This suggests that Nick gives an unbiased account of the events and a fair judgement on all the characters in the story.
However, this is changed by the end of the novel as Nick judges both Tom and Daisy; he ‘objects to shaking hands’ with Tom during their brief encounter in New York, and describes the Buchanans as ‘careless people…smashes up things and creatures…let other people clean up the mess they had made’. This sheds light on Nick’s harsher perceptions of the Buchanans after Gatsby’s death, in contrast to his ‘inclinations to reserve all judgement’ in the beginning, accentuating his change of character and morality in effect of living in the East with the wealthy but shallow.
In addition, Nick’s account of the story creates a stark contrast between the lifestyle in the East and the West. The West is associated with traditional, conservative values, in paradox to the urbanized, controversial and racy lifestyle in the East. As Nick attends a party in New York in Tom’s mistress’ apartment, he is ‘simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life’. This mirrors Nick engrossed with the glamour of the East yet ‘repelled’ by it at the same time. Nick is also seen as the dependable companion of Gatsby.
In the beginning, Nick befriends Gatsby whilst attending his party, and was already treated exceptionally well by Gatsby with Nick ‘at his (Gatsby) urgent invitation, making frequent use of the beach. ’ This is revealed in Chapter 4 that Gatsby was using Nick to facilitate the rekindling romance between him and Daisy, Nick’s cousin. Despite this, Nick is a trustworthy friend of Gatsby; he serves as Gatsby’s confidant through him and Daisy’s affair, for example expressing his feelings to Nick about ‘feeling far away from her’ after he found Daisy seemingly repelled by one of his lavish parties.
Though Gatsby is emotionally close with Nick, his business connections remain mysterious and unsolved. Nick’s relationship with Gatsby is enhanced by his death; he is the only one concerned and ‘finds himself on Gatsby’s side, and alone’ when he found that all Gatsby’s closest associates, including Daisy, had deserted him. ‘Just trust me and I’ll get somebody for you-‘ emphasizes Nick’s persisting strong bond with Gatsby.
Nick also shows his admirable loyalty towards Gatsby by trying to reach his close partner, Wolfshielm, and many other guests in his parties to attend his funeral, ‘however it wasn’t in any use. Nobody came’ show his efforts in vain and him helpless. Nevertheless Nick and Gatsby shared a compatible friendship with Nick as a supportive companion. Nick contributes to the Great Gatsby as the moral compass. He showed his attentive attitude through ‘making an attempt to find his host’ whilst attending Gatsby’s party whereas the others merely gossiped about Gatsby, ‘I think he killed a man’.
Furthermore, Nick refuses Gatsby’s offer of a dubious scheme that could earn him ‘a nice bit of money’, displaying his honest moral values in contrast to Gatsby’s shady business associations. However, Nick’s amorality heightens throughout the novel as he pursues a relationship with a woman who he states to be ‘incurably dishonest’, and enjoys her company as she is beautiful and is a golf celebrity, therefore is willing to make an excuse that ‘dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply’.
Additionally, Nick praises Catherine for lying to a judge, ‘she showed a surprising amount of character about it’, showing Nick’s morality contaminated by the dishonest, shallow values of the East. In conclusion, Nick Carraway contributes to the Great Gatsby as the narrator of the events, where he shows an impartial view of the characters. Furthermore, he is a reliable friend to Gatsby and the only concerning friend when Gatsby dies, suggesting his loyalty to him.
Nick also possesses ethical moral principles, having come from the west, and was taught to ‘reserve all judgements’; however this is significantly changed by the end of the story as Nick becomes judgemental towards Tom and Daisy and shows praise for Catherine for lying to a judge about Myrtle and Tom’s affair. Nonetheless, Nick serves the role as the relatively unbiased judge of the story and a trustworthy confidant and companion of Gatsby.