Best Character Analysis: Nick Carraway - The Great Gatsby (2023)

Best Character Analysis: Nick Carraway - The Great Gatsby (1)

Nick Carraway jokeGran Gatsby'He is the narrator but not the main character.

This makes Nick a bit difficult to follow, as we see the entire novel through his eyes. How can I follow the narrator? This difficulty is compounded by the fact that Nick is an unreliable narrator, essentially a narrator who doesn't always tell us the truth about what's going on.

In this post we will explore what we objectively know about Nick,what he does in the novel, his famous lines, common essay/discussion topics about Nick, and finally some frequently asked questions about Mr. Carraway.

Item routing

  • nick as character
    • Nick's past
    • Actions in the novel
  • character analysis
    • Quotes about and by Nick
    • Nick as Narrator
    • nick as character
    • FAQ explaining unclear issues about Nick

A quick note about our quotes

Our format for citations in this guide is (chapter.paragraph). We use this system because there are several editions of Gatsby, so using page numbers will only work for students with our copy of the book.

To find a quote we quoted in a chapter and paragraph in your book, you can look at it (paragraph 1-50: start of chapter; 50-100: middle of chapter; 100-onwards: end of chapter) or use search if you are using the online version or the text eReader.

Background of Nick Carraway

Nick grew up in the "midwest" (we call it the midwest) in a wealthy family that was "sort of clan" (1,5). His family made a fortune from a computer hardware wholesale business that his grandfather's brother started after sending a deputy to fight for him in the Civil War. Nick attended Yale, as did his father, then fought in World War I.

Upon his return, he found the Midwest incredibly boring, so he set out for New York.Becoming a Bond Seller: “I enjoyed the fast break so much that I came back looking forward to it. Instead of being the hot center of the world, the Midwest now felt like the jagged edge of the universe, so I decided to head east and learn the bond business” (1.6). Of course, we later learn that Nick is also running away from a woman who hopes they will marry, but Nick downplays this fact in his narration, which is one of our clues to his dishonesty.

To see how Nick's past intersects with other characters in the novel, take a look at ours.Timeline of the Great Gatsby.

Nick's actions in the novel.

This is a summary of everything Nick does in the novel, plus the flashbacks he hears from other characters. (For a full plot synopsis,view our book summary!)

At firstGran Gatsby, Nick Carraway lives in West Egg, in a small house next to the huge Gatsby mansion.It's 1922, the stock market is booming, and Nick has found a job as a bond salesman.

WChapter 1he is invited to his cousin Daisy Buchanan's house for dinner with her and her husband Tom, an old friend of his from college. There he meets Jordan Baker, a friend of Daisy's and a professional golfer.

WEpisode 2while spending time with Tom, he is dragged first to George Wilson's garage to meet Tom's mistress Myrtle Wilson, and then to the apartment Tom has for Myrtle in Manhattan. They invite a group of friends over and a drunken party begins. Nick witnesses some of Tom's uglier behavior, including being physically abused by Myrtle.

WChapter 3Nick is invited to one of Jay Gatsby's famous parties. There, he finally meets Gatsby and also sees Jordan again. After seeing Jordan again at that party, they start dating and also try their best to win over her elderly aunt who controls her money. When he starts dating Jordan, he vows to stop sending weekly letters to a Midwestern woman. (Although, in typical Nick fashion, he never confirms that she has stopped sending letters.) He also mentions a brief fling with a woman in his office, which he lets die off.

After meeting Gatsby in Chapter 3, they start spending time together. INChapter 4go together to Manhattan.At first he is quite wary of Gatsby and his story.This warning about Gatsby is compounded by Nick's weak (and very anti-Semitic!) impression of Meyer Wolfsheim, one of Gatsby's associates. Later in Chapter 4, Nick meets Jordan at the Plaza Hotel and she tells him about the romantic history of Daisy and Gatsby (whichsoheard at a previous party).

Nick agrees to arrange a meeting between Daisy and Gatsby, which takes place atChapter 5.

WChapter 6Nick goes to Gatsby's house and witnesses an awkward exchange between Gatsby, a couple named Sloane, and Tom Buchanan. The trio pull up in front of Gatsby's house, and Gatsby misunderstands how serious they are about having dinner together. Later, Tom and Daisy attend one of Gatsby's parties. Tom is immediately suspicious of where Gatsby is getting his money from, while Daisy has a hard time belittling the romance.Gatsby then confides in Nick that he wants to repeat his past with Daisy.

WChapter 7Nick is invited to a dinner party at Tom and Daisy Buchanan's house along with Gatsby and Jordan. Gatsby waits for Daisy to tell Tom that she never loved him and she leaves him for Gatsby, but she gets nervous about doing this at Tom's house. Daisy is also concerned and suggests that they all go to Manhattan. Nick drives to Manhattan with Tom and Jordan in Gatsby's yellow car. They stop at Wilson's garage, where he learns that George found out about Myrtle's affair, but not the man he is cheating on him with.

In Manhattan, the group rents a room at the Plaza Hotel. Several secrets come to light, including the fact that Tom knows that Gatsby is a bootlegger. Daisy tries to say that she never loved Tom, but she can't bear the statement. Tom, pleased to have won, tells Gatsby to take Daisy home in her yellow car while he returns to Nick and Jordan.

Best Character Analysis: Nick Carraway - The Great Gatsby (2)

Perhaps the least subtle car in the history of cars.

On the way back, they come across the scene of Myrtle Wilson's death - she was hit by a yellow car. Later that night, Nick stands outside Buchanan's house waiting for a cab back to West Egg, too disgusted by Buchanan's behavior to go inside. He sees Gatsby waiting outside; he wants to make sure Daisy is okay. Meanwhile, Nick notices that Tom and Daisy are inside and they seem complicit.

WChapter 8Nick goes to work but can't concentrate. Jordan calls him to tell him where he's staying, but he's upset that she doesn't seem affected by Myrtle's death, so they fight and part ways.Later, Nick hangs out with Gatsby at his mansion and learns his entire life story.The next day, George Wilson shoots and kills Gatsby (and George kills himself).

WChapter 9Nick tries to organize a funeral for Gatsby, which is attended only by Gatsby's father and Owl Eyes. Disgusted with the morally lawless life in the East, he decides to return home to the Midwest.

Nick Carraway Key Quotes

When I was younger and more vulnerable, my father gave me advice that I have been thinking about ever since. "Any time you feel like criticizing someone," he told me, "just remember that not everyone in this world had the advantage that you did." (1.1-2)

The opening lines portray Nick as prudent, thorough, privileged, and critical.This line also sets the tone for the first few pages, where Nick tells us about his background and tries to encourage the reader to trust his judgment. While he seems thoughtful and perceptive, we also get the sense that he's judgmental and a bit of a snob.

(Video) The Great Gatsby - Nick Carraway Analysis

For more analysis of why the novel begins the way it does, and what Nick's father's advice means to him as a character and narrator, read ourarticle about the origins of The Great Gatsby.

When I came back from the East last fall, I felt that I wanted the world to be forever in uniform and with some sort of moral care; He did not want more raucous excursions with privileged glimpses of the human heart. Only Gatsby, the man who named this book after him, was free of my reaction; Gatsby, who represented everything I sincerely despise. (1.4)

Another quote from the first few pages of the novel, this line raises the big question of the novel:Why did Nick get so close to Gatsby, considering that Gatsby represents everything he hates?It also gives the reader the hint that Nick cares deeply for Gatsby, while everyone else will earn his "scorn intact." While this doesn't give away the plot, it does help the reader become a little suspicious of everyone except Gatsby who enters the story.

Everyone is suspected of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people I have ever met. (3,171)

This is probably where you start to suspect that Nick doesn't always tell the truth: if everyone "suspects" one of his main virtues (implying that they're not really virtuous), if Nick says he's honest, maybe he isn't. you? Furthermore, if someone has to say that he is honest, it often implies that he is doing things that are not trustworthy.

Suddenly, I wasn't thinking about Daisy and Gatsby anymore, but about this narrow-minded, tough, pure person who had dealt with widespread skepticism and who had carelessly leaned into my arm. A phrase began to ring in my ears with some excitement: "They are just hunted, hunted, busy and tired." (4,164)

Nick's interactions with Jordan are one of the few places where we can feel Nick's vulnerability or emotion.Nick, in particular, seems to like Jordan, and being with her makes the phrase "pound" in his ears with "strong emotion." If they're just being chased, chased, busy and tired, Nick seems happy to be the chaser at this particular moment.

"It's a rotten mob," I yelled across the lawn. - You're worth the whole damn set. (8.45)

This line, which comes after Myrtle's death and the cool reaction from Tom, Daisy, and Jordan, shows that Nick has firmly sided with Gatsby in the conflict between the Buchanans and Gatsbys. It also shows Nick's disillusionment with all the rich crowd on the East Coast, as well as his commitment to Gatsby at this time and his determination to protect his legacy. This suggests to us that our once seemingly impartial narrator now views Gatsby more generously than the others.

Gatsby believed in the green light, in the orgasmic future that recedes from year to year. We lost it then, but it doesn't matter: tomorrow we will run faster, we will stretch our arms more. . . . And one good morning... We continue like this, boats against the current, always going back in time. (9.153-4)

Here is Nick's conclusion to his story, which can be read ascynical, optimistic or realisticdepending on how you interpret it. You can read about these lines in detailin our article on the end of the novel.

Analysis of the character of Nick Carraway

Nick is the narrator, but he's not omniscient (he can't see everything), and he's also very human and full of flaws.In other words, he is an unreliable narrator,sometimes because he is not present at an event, sometimes because he tells the story out of order, and finally because he sometimes obfuscates the truth. (Most students only need two readings of the novel to recognize the fact that Nick has a woman waiting for him in the Midwest.)

Due to his status as an unreliable narrator, the main questions many teachers try to ask Nick are to explore his role in the story, how the story would be different without his narration, and how he compares to Gatsby.

In short, you often have to analyze Nick as a character rather than a narrator. This can be tricky as you have to compare Nick's narration with his dialogue, his actions, and the way he chose to tell the story. You also have to realize that when you analyze other characters, you do so based on information from Nick, which may or may not be credible. Essentially, nothing we hear in the novel can be completely accurate because it comes from one person's (necessarily) flawed point of view.

The best way to analyze Nick himself is to select a few passages to peruse and use what he observed in his close reading to build a larger argument.Pay close attention to moments, especially Nick's encounters with Jordan, that give insight into Nick's emotions and weaknesses.We'll demonstrate it in action below!

Best Character Analysis: Nick Carraway - The Great Gatsby (3)In the photo: rose-colored glasses through which Nick apparently begins to see Gatsby.

Nick as Narrator

These first questions explore Nick's role as a narrator.

Why is Nick the narrator and not Gatsby?

Ever since Nick gave a roughly chronological account of the summer of 1922, we've seen Gatsby's rise from reserved party animal to lovesick dreamer to tragic figure (who grew from humble roots to riches, all in a failed attempt to defeat Daisy).If Gatsby had been the narrator, it would have been more difficult for Fitzgerald to show this progression.unless Gatsby conveyed his life story incorrectly, which may have been difficult to achieve from Gatsby's point of view.

A novel would also be a much simpler story, possibly with less suspense: Gatsby was born poor in South Dakota, befriended Dan Cody, learned to pretend to be rich, lost Cody's inheritance, fell in love with Daisy, fought in wars Determined to salvage his recovery, he turned to crime. In short, Fitzgerald could have told the same story, but it would have had far less suspense and mystery, plus it would have been much more difficult to convey the aftermath of Gatsby's death. If the point of view had not suddenly changed after Gatsby was shot, the reader would have no idea what exactly happened to Gatsby, what happened to George Wilson, and ultimately would not be able to see Gatsby's funeral.

Also, having a narrator other than Gatsby himself makes it easier to analyze Gatsby as a character.Nick is very perceptive and can notice things in Gatsby, likethe way he ignores social cuessubtle changes in her mood and even smaller details like her captivating smile. We probably wouldn't see these aspects of Gatsby if Gatsby himself were telling the story.

Finally, since Nick is "in and out" of New York's elite, he is the perfect ticket for the reader: he can introduce us to some aspects of this world and share much of our shock and skepticism. Nick resembles the "new student at school" or "new employee", which is used in many movies and TV shows as a way to introduce viewers to a new world. If Gatsby were the narrator, it would be more difficult to see all the details of New York's social elite.

Is Nick Carraway an unreliable narrator?

In many ways, Nick is an unreliable narrator: he is dishonest about his own shortcomings (minimizing his affairs with other women, as well as his abuse of alcohol) andhe doesn't tell us everything he knows about the characters in advance(for example, he waits until chapter 6 to tell us the truth about Gatsby's origins, despite knowing all along that he's telling the story, and even then he leaves out unflattering details like details of Gatsby's criminal endeavors), and is often harsh in his judgments (as well as antisemites, racists, and misogynists).

As a reader, you have to be skeptical of Nick for the way he opens the story.namely, that he spends several pages trying to basically prove himself a reliable source (see ourrelease summarymore on that), and later describes himself as "one of the few honest men I have ever known" (3.171). After all, does a truly honest man have to defend his own integrity?

However, as judgmental as he is, Nick is a very attentive person, especially with regard to other people, their body language, and social situations. For example, in Chapter 6, Nick immediately feels that Gatsby is not welcome in the Sloan household before Tom says so outright. Nick can also accurately predict that Daisy won't leave Tom at the end of the first chapter, after seeing her standing in the doorway with Tom: "I was confused and a little grossed out as I walked away. For Daisy it was like running out of the house with a baby in arms, but apparently had no such intentions" (1.150). If only Jay could see Daisy's intentions so clearly!

We also come away with a very clear understanding of the chaotic climax (Myrtle's death at the hands of Daisy in Gatsby's car, George Wilson's mental decline, and Gatsby's murder/suicide) as Nick narrates the events from his point of view, but also from that of Michaelis. , owner of a coffee shop near George Wilson's garage. Soon,Nick delegates to another storyteller when he knows he doesn't have enough information.and ensures that the reader gains a clear understanding of the underlying events of the tragedy.

In short, you shouldn't believe everything Nick says, especially his smug comments, but you can take his broader characterization and version of events to heart. But as you read, try to separate Nick's opinions about people from his observations.

(Video) Gatsby characters 1 - Nick Carraway

Is Nick really the hero of this story?

The hero or protagonist is generally a character whose actions drive the story forward, who is the focus of the story, and are usually tested or thwarted by the antagonist.

So, in the most traditional sense, Gatsby is a hero.- directs the plot of the story, forcing Jordan and Nick to reintroduce him to Daisy (leading to an affair, a confrontation in Manhattan, Myrtle's death, and then a murder-suicide), confronts antagonists (Tom) and the story ends with his death. The Gatsby story is thus a cynical take on the traditional rags-to-riches story.

However, some see the hero as the person who changes the most throughout the story. In this case, one could argue that since Nick changes a lot over the course of the novel (see below), while Gatsby doesn't change drastically over the course of the story itself (his major character changes occur before the timeline of the novel), Nick is, in fact, the hero.Nick's story is a take on the coming-of-age narrative: in the novel, he even has a major birthday (30!)

Basically, if you think the main character is the one that drives the action of the story and someone who has an antagonist, then it's Gatsby. But if you think the hero is the person who changes the most, you can argue that the hero is Nick.

nick as character

Best Character Analysis: Nick Carraway - The Great Gatsby (4)

We'll never get a physical description of Nick, so don't blame yourself if your mental image of Nick is soft and amorphous like this guy.

How does Nick change throughout the novel?

Nick starts out naive and optimistic about his summer and his future in New York in general, as his narrative reveals (this optimism about his own life is mixed with his harsh and mean-spirited characterizations of others, which mostly stay the same throughout). of the short story).

And so, with the sun and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just like everything grows in fast-moving movies, I had the familiar feeling that with summer, life begins anew.There was so much to read to begin with, and so much good health to extract from the young air he breathed.(1.11-12)(emphasis added)

As the summer progresses, he meets someone much more optimistic than himself, Gatsby, of course, and he begins to grow more cynical about his own life, realizing that there are certain memories and feelings he can no longer access.

Through everything he said, even through his terrifying sentimentality, something came back to me: an elusive rhythm, a fragment of lost words that I had heard somewhere long ago. For a moment a sentence tried to form itself in my mouth, and my mouth parted like a mute's, as if there were more fighting than a startled breath of air. But they made no sound andwhat he almost remembered was forever incommunicable. (6.135) (emphasis added)

Finally, after the death of Myrtle, Gatsby, and Wilson, and after his thirtieth birthday, Nick is utterly disillusioned, cynical, filled with regret, and even angry as he tries to protect Gatsby's legacy in the face of an indifferent world, as well as a renewed awareness of his own mortality.

"I'm thirty," I told him. "I'm five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor." She did not answer. Furious, half in love with her and deeply saddened, I turned away. (9.125-6)

After Gatsby's death, the Orient was so haunted for me, so distorted, that my eyes cannot fix it. (9,127)

Last night, with my trunk packed and the car sold to a grocer, I walked over and took another look at this huge, disjointed wreck of a home. On the white steps, an obscene word scrawled by a child on a piece of brick was clearly visible in the moonlight, and I scraped it away by scraping my shoe against the stone. (9,150)

In short, while this is a novel about Gatsby's dream/failed love for Daisy, it could also be argued that it tells the story of Nick's loss of hope and innocence as he enters his thirties.

What does Nick think of Gatsby? Why did she like him so much?

Throughout the book, Nick goes from being initially delighted with Gatsby to skepticism, admiration, and even idealization. When he first meets Gatsby in Chapter 3, he is drawn to his smile and immediately feels a partner and friend, before, of course, Gatsby reveals himself as Jay Gatsby:

He smiled understandingly, much more than understanding. It was one of those rare smiles that had something of the eternal certainty that you get four or five times in a lifetime. She faced, or seemed to be looking at, the entire outside world for a moment, then zeroed in on you with an irresistible bias in your favor. She understood you as much as you wanted to be understood, she believed in you as much as you would like to believe in yourself, and she assured you that she made exactly the impression you wanted to convey at your best. (3.73)

In Chapter 4, Nick is very skeptical of Gatsby's story about his past, although he is somewhat impressed by the "little Montenegro" medal (4.32).

He looked at me sideways and I knew why Jordan Baker thought he was lying. He hurriedly uttered the phrase "Oxford educated" or swallowed it or choked on it, as if it already bothered him. And with that doubt, his entire statement came crashing down, and I wondered if there wasn't something a little sinister about that after all. (4.24)

He also seems increasingly skeptical after meeting Meyer Wolfshie, who Nick describes as very anti-Semitic. When Wolfshiem vouches for Gatsby's "good manners" (4.99), Nick seems even more suspicious of Gatsby's origins.

In Chapter 5, when Nick sees Gatsby and Daisy meet,for the first time, he sees Gatsby as much more human and flawed(especially in the first few minutes of the meeting, when Gatsby is incredibly clumsy) and then sees Gatsby changed and "literally glowing" (5.87). As Nick watches Gatsby blossom in Daisy's presence, I think Gatsby wins over Nick himself. Notice how warm Nick's description is:

But there was one change in Gatsby that was just confusing. He was literally glowing; without an ecstatic word or gesture, a new sense of well-being emanated from him and filled the room (5.87)

In Chapter 6, Nick watches honestly and candidly as Gatsby is snubbed by the Sloans, but seems to pity Gatsby more than mock him.Looks like he's trying to protect Gatsby.cutting to the scene as Gatsby walks out the door, coat in hand, after Sloane has coolly left him:

Tom and I shook hands, the rest of us exchanged nods and trotted briskly up the driveway, disappearing under the August leaves just as Gatsby, hat and light coat in hand, strode out the front door. (6.59)

In Chapter 7, during the hotel confrontation, Nick definitely sides with Gatsby, to the point where he is overjoyed when Gatsby reveals that he actually attended Oxford but didn't graduate:

(Video) The Great Gatsby- How Nick Changes

I wanted to get up and pat him on the back. I had one of those renewals of complete faith in him that I had experienced before. (7,221)

As the rest of the novel unfolds, Nick admires Gatsby more and more, even as he dislikes the Buchanans (and by extension, Jordan).

I think why Nick is so fascinated with Gatsby is up to the reader. In my reading, Nick, as someone who rarely transcends social boundaries and is rarely "carried away" by love or emotion (see how coolly he ends not one but three romances in the book!), isadmiring and even a little envious of Gatsby,who is so determined to build a certain life for himself that he manages to transform poor James Gatz into the infamously rich Jay Gatsby.

Last night, with my trunk packed and the car sold to a grocer, I walked over and took another look at this huge, disjointed wreck of a home. On the white steps, an obscene word scrawled by a child on a piece of brick was clearly visible in the moonlight, and I scraped it away by scraping my shoe against the stone. (9,150)

Gatsby's fate is also intertwined with Nick's growing cynicism, both about his future and his life in New York, so he clings to Gatsby's memory and is determined to tell his story.

¿Nick Carraway es gay?

This may seem unlikely at first: Nick dates Jordan throughout the book (as well as admitting to various other affairs with women) and at one point admits to being "half in love with [Jordan]". So why do people think Nick is gay?

First, consider the bizarre moment at the end of Chapter 2 that seems to imply Nick going home with Mr. McKee:

"Come over for lunch one day," he suggested as we groaned in the elevator.



"Keep your hands off the levers," the elevator man growled.

"I'm sorry," Mr. McKee said with dignity, "I didn't know I was touching it."

"Okay," I agreed, "with pleasure."

. . .I was standing by his bed and he was sitting between the sheets, in his underwear., with a large teak in his hands.

"Beauty and the Beast... Soledad... Old Supermarket... Brook'n Bridge..."

Then I fell asleep on the cold lower deck of Pennsylvania Station, looking at the morning Tribune and waiting for the four o'clock train. (2.128-136)

Nick's narrative is muddled and sporadic as he was pretty drunk after the party. What we see, though: The elevator operator scolds him to "keep your hands off the lever" (tip, wink, wink, shove), after which Nick said, "I was standing by [Mr. He and McKee were sitting between the sheets, wearing underwear" - seems strongly suggestive of a sexual encounter. And in such a short and carefully constructed novel, why add this brief scene if not to help us understand Nick?

Some see the scene as a confirmation of Nick's sexual preference, or at least an indication that he is attracted to both men and women. However, as it was the 1920s, he couldn't be proud and proud, so he would never honestly admit that he was attracted to the men in the sober narrative of him.Instead, the theory goes, her love and attraction to Gatsby is reflected through the filter of intense admiration.So with this reading,Gran GatsbyThe narrator is a man who suffers from unrequited love.

Do you have to take this reading as fact? You are welcome. But if you're curious, you cansee the full logread "Nick as Gay" and decide for yourself.

last questions

These are questions students often ask about Nick after reading the book, but don't always come up in classroom discussions or essay topics. Read on if you still have unanswered questions about Nick!

Best Character Analysis: Nick Carraway - The Great Gatsby (5)

Also, be sure to let us know in the comments if you have any more questions about Nick!

What's going on with Nick and Jordan's relationship? Do they really like each other?

Nick says in his opening narration that most people in the East have earned his "selfless scorn", so it's confusing to see him snuggling up to Jordan in the next few chapters (1.4). However, note that contempt is earned throughout the novel, with Nick writing the opening narration remembering everything. So before the tragic end,Nick is really very attracted to Jordan.and he has yet to realize that his attractive skepticism actually means that he can be callous and uncaring. Our earlier quote from Chapter 4, where Nick is attracted to "tough, clean and limited" Jordan, illustrates this strong initial attraction.

But do they still have feelings for each other after the break up? His farewell scene is really useful in the analysis to answer this question:

"Yet you knocked me down," Jordan said suddenly. You left me on the phone. I don't care about you now, but it was a new experience for me and I felt a little dizzy for a while."

We shook hands.

"Oh, and do you remember…" she added, "…a conversation we had once about driving a car?"

"Why…not really."

“Did you say that a bad driver is only safe until he meets another bad driver? Well, I met another bad driver, didn't I? I mean, it was careless on my part to guess. I thought you were quite an honest and simple person. I thought it was your hidden pride.

"I'm thirty," I told him. "I'm five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor."

She did not answer. Furious, half in love with her and deeply saddened, I turned away. (9.130-136)

(Video) The Great Gatsby | Characters | F. Scott Fitzgerald

Jordan, for her part, seems to admit that she really liked Nick when they broke up at the end and she was very hurt. And Nick, for once, is a mixed bag of emotions: "angry" and "half in love." So despite Nick's earlier statement that everyone on the East Coast is the subject of his "selfless contempt",It seems that his attachment to Jordan is a bit more complicated:he is disgusted by some of her behavior, but still has a strong attraction to her, strong enough to become angry and regretful during their breakup.

Of course, if you agree with the "Nick loves Gatsby" theory, you can chalk up much of this scene to pent-up desires, especially Nick's comment about not wanting to lie to himself.

Why does Nick say, "You're better than a bunch of them"?

This announcement officially marks Nick's disillusionment with the old East Coast mob. Remember, this line comes after the car crash and the hotel scene just before, so he's just seen some of the most disgusting behavior from Daisy and Tom. Nick is proud of this statement, as it was one of the last things he had to say to Gatsby.

What might be a bit harder to spot is when Nick's earlier mistrust of Gatsby turned into respect. I argued earlier that it starts in chapter 5 when he watches Gatsby's meeting with Daisy and sees Gatsby transformed and entranced by love.

Whats Next?

Nick sets the scene in Chapter 1 by first explaining why he can be trusted as a narrator. Readour summary of chapter 1 for more analysis as to why opening Nick up makes him a bit suspect as a narrator.

Want to read more about Nick and Jordan's relationship?? Do you wonder why they know each other despite their differences of origin? read aboutlove, lust and relationships in Gatsbymore about their relationship.

Did Fitzgerald consider himself more Carraway or Gatsby?Fileour life story of F. Scott Fitzgeraldmore about the man behind the book.

Do you want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points?We have written a guide for each test on the top 5 strategies you should use to have any chance of improving your score. Download now for free:

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halle edwards

About the Author

Halle Edwards graduated with honors from Stanford University. In high school, she scored in the 99th percentile of her ACT scores, as well as in the 99th percentile of her SAT Subject Test scores. She also participated in nine AP classes, earning a perfect 5 on seven AP exams. As a graduate of a large public high school who largely handled the admissions process on her own, she is passionate about helping high school students from all walks of life gain the knowledge they need to succeed in the admissions process. to the University.

(Video) Why is Nick Carraway an unreliable but likeable narrator? | Top grade Great Gatsby analysis

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What is the character analysis of Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby? ›

Nick Carraway

The novel's narrator, Nick is a young man from Minnesota who, after being educated at Yale and fighting in World War I, goes to New York City to learn the bond business. Honest, tolerant, and inclined to reserve judgment, Nick often serves as a confidant for those with troubling secrets.

Why is Nick the best character in The Great Gatsby? ›

Nick is also well suited to narrating The Great Gatsby because of his temperament. As he tells the reader in Chapter 1, he is tolerant, open-minded, quiet, and a good listener, and, as a result, others tend to talk to him and tell him their secrets.

Why is Nick Carraway the most important character? ›

Throughout the novel, Nick is the vehicle used to gather all of the pieces together to learn about Gatsby. Nick is the only character that changes in the novel from the beginning to the end. Nick is the literary device that is employed to learn about Gatsby, which ultimately tells the theme of the story.…

What makes Nick Carraway a good narrator? ›

Nick's attention to detail in his narrative is the element due to which many scholars argue in favour of his reliability. One of these scholars is Wayne C. Booth, who was the first that introduced reliability and unreliability, and marked Nick as a reliable narrator.

Who does Nick Carraway symbolize? ›

What does Nick Carraway symbolize? Nick symbolizes the outsider's perspective of the way things were in the 1920s. He is not as wealthy as the other characters in the novel and thus recognizes how morally corrupt they are.

Was Nick Carraway in love with Gatsby? ›

This is at the very end of the novel. Of the late Gatsby, Tom says, “That fellow had it coming to him. He threw dust in your eyes just like he did in Daisy's….” And that's why it matters that Nick is gay and in love with Gatsby: because Tom's assessment is spot-on, but Nick will never admit it.

Why is Nick the most moral character? ›

When he first goes to a party at Gatsby's, he seeks Gatsby out (presumably to thank him for his invitation), while the others at the party gossip about Gatsby and enjoy themselves. Similarly, after Gatsby's death, Nick is the only one who shows concern. Nick can therefore be seen as the moral compass of the story.

Why is Nick the most admirable character? ›

Nick Carraway seems to be one of the more admirable characters. For example, he is a truthful man and he isn't ashamed of it. He referred to himself as “one of the few honest people he has ever known.” He is also a giving person. He fought in World War 1 and could've ended up giving his life for his people.

Who is the most important character in The Great Gatsby? ›

Although Nick Carraway is the narrator of The Great Gatsby, and we only see things he witnesses or is told about, Jay Gatsby is the protagonist of the novel. In addition to lending his name to the book's title, Gatsby also serves as the novel's focal point.

Why does Nick Carraway admire Gatsby? ›

Nick admires Gatsby due to his optimism, how he shapes his own life, and how doggedly he believes in his dream, despite the cruel realities of 1920s America.

Is Nick Carraway a necessary character? ›

Answer and Explanation: Nick Carraway does not play a main role in The Great Gatsby, but his narration helps the reader understand what the author is trying to impart. Carraway is only a visitor on Long Island Sound, so he has an outsider's perspective.

What are some quotes characterizing Nick Carraway? ›

I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.” “I wasn't actually in love, but I felt a sort of tender curiosity.” “Reserving judgements is a matter of infinite hope.” “There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.”

Is Nick from The Great Gatsby a good narrator? ›

Answer: Nick Carraway is an unreliable narrator in The Great Gatsby. He contradicts himself and reveals minimal information about the characters throughout the novel, providing essential contradictions which are exposed in a variety of ways through the course of the accounts.

How is Nick a hypocrite in The Great Gatsby? ›

Most claims of Nick's dishonesty as a character build on arguments made out of placing Nick's ambiguous actions in contrast to each other, i.e. making Nick a hypocrite.

How does Nick show himself to be a good first person narrator? ›

Nick Carraway introduces himself as incredibly honest, and not prone to passing judgment. Nick acts as a faithful observer—he observes his world almost as an existentialist would, stating and noting the facts but carefully excluding their effect on his opinions.

Why is Nick Carraway in a mental hospital? ›

First, Luhrmann made the curious decision to begin the story with Nick Carraway (our first-person narrator played by Tobey Maguire) writing in a patient's journal after ending up in a mental hospital due to “morbid alcoholism, fits of anger, insomnia.” According to Mike Hogan's (Executive Arts and Entertainment Editor ...

Who does Gatsby truly love? ›

Relationship 1: Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby. The relationship at the very heart of The Great Gatsby is, of course, Gatsby and Daisy, or more specifically, Gatsby's tragic love of (or obsession with) Daisy, a love that drives the novel's plot.

Is Daisy in love with Nick in The Great Gatsby? ›

Like Zelda Fitzgerald, Daisy is in love with money, ease, and material luxury. She is capable of affection (she seems genuinely fond of Nick and occasionally seems to love Gatsby sincerely), but not of sustained loyalty or care.

What virtue does Nick claim? ›

Nick declares honesty to be his “cardinal virtue” at the end of Chapter 3. As readers, we should be suspicious when a narrator makes this type of claim. Nick says he's among the most honest people he knows, but at this point in the novel the reader only has his word to go on.

Is Nick a good or bad person in The Great Gatsby? ›

In many ways, Nick is an unreliable narrator: he's dishonest about his own shortcomings (downplaying his affairs with other women, as well as his alcohol use), and he doesn't tell us everything he knows about the characters upfront (for example, he waits until Chapter 6 to tell us the truth about Gatsby's origins, even ...

What important character quality does Nick share about himself? ›

Nick describes himself as "one of the few honest people that [he has] ever known," and he views himself as a hopeful man who can see the best in everyone.

Why does Nick feel responsible? ›

Nick felt responsible because although everyone attended Jay's parties, no one wanted to come for the funeral. And Nick was obligated to make it right. He was the only real and loyal friend that Gatsby had. Nick was the only one who didn't care about his great fortune.

How is Nick an honest character? ›

Nick tells the readers all of the facts about Gatsby, no matter whether they are true or not, which is honest to the readers as a narrator. Although he knows that Gatsby might lie to him, he still remains be friend with Gatsby.

Who was the most admirable character in The Great Gatsby and why? ›

An admirable character in the novel is the narrator, Nick Carraway. In the beginning, Nick has always been an outcast that is seen as more practical and has integrity.

Who is the most admirable character in The Great Gatsby essay? ›

The most admirable character in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is, without a doubt, Jay Gatsby. Jay Gatsby was the main character in the novel, but not the narrator. It is revealed that Gatsby did not always have a lot of fortune, and he grew up with a poor background.

Who is the most moral in The Great Gatsby? ›

Who is the most moral character in The Great Gatsby? Daisy's cousin, Nick Carraway, is the most moral character in the story. He is the narrator and presents the story as an outsider looking in on a wonderous and depraved world.

What made Nick think Gatsby was likable? ›

He sees both the extraordinary quality of hope that Gatsby possesses and his idealistic dream of loving Daisy in a perfect world. Though Nick recognizes Gatsby's flaws the first time he meets him, he cannot help but admire Gatsby's brilliant smile, his romantic idealization of Daisy, and his yearning for the future.

What motivated Nick Carraway? ›

But Nick remains as a prosaic narrator and motivated largely by what can be described as Jeremy Bentham's theory of altruistic hedonism; suggesting that albeit tentatively, Nick is selflessness, and that he believes that there is more to living than the self.

What is Nick Carraway obsessed with? ›

Nick appears obsessed with aristocracy and thinks people will be impressed by his imaginary lineage. At the end of the third chapter, Nick will declare himself “one of the few honest people I've ever known.

How does Nick describe himself? ›

Answer: At the beginning of the story, Nick describes himself as being completely bored of the honest Midwest and looking for more excitement in life, so he decides to move to New York to become a “bond man.” A bond man is a person wo is a stockbroker or financier.

Is Nick Carraway selfless? ›

Nick Carraway is incredibly selfless and does not even touch being superficial. He helps others and follows what he believes is best.

Is Nick an honest person in The Great Gatsby? ›

In general though, Nick is more honest than all the other main characters. He's just got a blind spot when it comes to being honest with himself and when evaluating Jay Gatsby, whom he adores despite Jay's gaping flaws of character.

Who does Nick believe is dishonest? ›

After a brief relationship with a girl from Jersey City, Nick follows the advice of Daisy and Tom and begins seeing Jordan Baker. Nick says that Jordan is fundamentally a dishonest person; he even knows that she cheated in her first golf tournament.

What were Nick's final significant words to Gatsby? ›

What were Nick's final words to Gatsby? Why is this a fitting goodbye? "They're a written crowd, you're worth the whole damn bunch put together"- Gatsby realizes Nick was the only person who genuinely cared about him; this is the only compliment Nick ever gave Gatsby.

Is Nick Carraway a hero? ›

The challenges and ordeals he faces construct his character and lead him to challenge his integrity and morals. Over the course of his quest, he is transformed and later returns back to the land he knows. This heroic quest, or, The Hero's Journey, illuminates how Nick Carraway is a true mythological hero.

How is Nick ironic in The Great Gatsby? ›

Nick's relationship to Gatsby is an example of irony because Nick tells the story about Gatsby but he does not like the man. He says, 'Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, (...) represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. ' As readers, we wonder why Nick wants to talk about Gatsby.

Was Nick sad about Gatsby's death? ›

Nick, disillusioned by Gatsby's death, recognizes the amoral behaviour of the old-money class and becomes aware that the American Dream which Gatsby believed in cannot be saved from the decadence.

Why does Nick almost laugh when Gatsby? ›

Why does Nick almost laugh when Gatsby is telling him about his personal history? A: Nick thinks it is funny that Gatsby considers what he went through any kind of hardship.

What is Nick Carraway's conflict? ›

One of the most important conflicts in the book is Nick Carraway's internal struggle. Carraway does his best to keep out of other people's business. He doesn't fight with anyone. However, he struggles with the excess and lack of responsibility of the people around him.

How smart is Nick Carraway? ›

reserved, practical, and intelligent. Nick knows he's been lucky in life, and so he's "inclined to reserve all judgments" when it comes to the others' affairs. As a result, he makes the perfect observer: always there for the events, but never too involved in them.

What type of narrator is Nick in The Great Gatsby? ›

The Great Gatsby is written in first-person limited perspective from Nick's point of view. This means that Nick uses the word “I” and describes events as he experienced them. He does not know what other characters are thinking unless they tell him.

Is Nick Carraway a hero or villain? ›

The true villain of this story is narrator Nick Carraway. He claims to not want to be part of the conflict, but there he is in the midst of it all, and what got him there was his actions, wanting to belong, and his inaction.

What are Nick's character flaws in The Great Gatsby? ›

First, the narrator, Nick Carraway. His flaw is more discreet but also manages to get him in a sticky mess. His complaciency and lack of personal will to say no lead him to the entagled mess of Gatsby and Daisy. It consumes his energy and attention while his bond buisness continues to decline.

Is Nick the main character in Gatsby? ›

Although Nick Carraway is the narrator of The Great Gatsby, and we only see things he witnesses or is told about, Jay Gatsby is the protagonist of the novel. In addition to lending his name to the book's title, Gatsby also serves as the novel's focal point.

Is Nick a moral character? ›

Nick can therefore be seen as the moral compass of the story. He refuses Gatsby's offer of a dubious scheme that could make him a nice bit of money . When he meets Jordan, nothing happens between them at first because of the interior rules that act as brakes on my desires… .

What does Nick describe himself as? ›

Nick describes himself as highly moral and highly tolerant. Nick also said that he learned from. his father to reserve judgment towards other people.

Does Nick like or hate Gatsby? ›

Nick is particularly taken with Gatsby and considers him a great figure. He sees both the extraordinary quality of hope that Gatsby possesses and his idealistic dream of loving Daisy in a perfect world.


1. NICK CARRAWAY | Detailed and Complete Character Analysis | The Great Gatsby | Anjana Thulasidas
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2. Nick Carraway - Unreliable Narrator
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3. Why is The Great Gatsby tragic? | Top grade Jay Gatsby character analysis
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4. The Great Gatsby: Why Nick Is Not Your Friend
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5. The Great Gatsby: Tone of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Character Analysis of Nick Carraway & Jay Gatsby
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6. The Great Gatsby - Jay Gatsby Analysis


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