Nick - Detached or Dishonest?
Uploaded by XxBkLnBaBe on Apr 14, 2001
The Great Gatsby is a difficult book to interpret, particularly because of the style in which it is written. Not only must the reader differentiate between the separate views of Nick as the narrator and Nick as the character, but he or she must also take into consideration at what time period, relative to this story, are these views being expressed. After all, Nick the narrator is presently evaluating the manner in which his character behaved the year before, as well as allowing his character to voice his opinion, as his opinion had been during that time frame. We learn to trust Nick as a narrator, because all the pieces of information he gives to us, received through symbolism, imagery, or personal reflection, lead us to make significant decisions regarding the other characters of the novel. His character, on the other hand, cannot be looked upon in the same manner; it can be seen as dishonest and hypocritical, yet it is these negative characteristics that humanize him, allowing readers to relate to him as a person.
What Nick thinks as the narrator is not always the same as what his character portrays. In just the third paragraph of this book, we learn that Nick is “inclined to reserve all judgments (Page 5),” but that his tolerance, “has a limit (Page 6).” True, his opinions might not be expressed in words, but it is important to realize that those opinions still exist. The narrator’s role is to make us aware of Nick’s “judgments,” for his character neglects to respond to such feelings. Various techniques allow us to draw our own conclusions, the most interesting one being symbolism. The “foul dust” mentioned throughout the novel serves to corrupt everything it encounters. It is this foul dust that represents the lives of Daisy, Tom, and Jordan. After all, they are all immoral characters. A word such as dust successfully gives off a negative ambiance, but for Nick to go the step further and declare such dust to be “foul” truly represents his disapproval of their actions. Thus, without proclaiming his opinion in the form of words, Nick presents it openly through symbolism for us to see. However, even though we know that Nick as the narrator, reflecting back on that summer, did not see the three to be honorable people, he still spent a great deal of time with them. Like most people,...