Nick's Self-Interest in The Great Gatsby
In his novel The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald portrays a world filled with rich societal happenings and love affairs. His main character, Gatsby, is flamboyant, pompous, and only cares about impressing the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan. Nick is Fitzgerald's narrator for the story, and is a curious choice as a narrator because he is of a different class and almost a different world than Gatsby and most of the other characters in the book. Nick relates the plot to the reader as a member of Gatsby's circle, yet he expresses repeatedly his dislike for the man. Nick cannot relate to Gatsby because of their fundamental personality differences. Moreover, he disapproves of Gatsby's desire to impress Daisy at all costs. However, Nick continues to follow Gatsby because by doing so he can ensure his relationship with Jordan, a celebrity socialite, and because, in a perverse way, Nick can use Gatsby to bolster his own self-esteem.
Nick expresses his opinion about Gatsby quite clearly: "I disapproved of him from beginning to end" (162). However, he makes this remark at the end of the novel and actually does like Gatsby when he first meets him. "I could see nothing sinister about him" (54). Nick's image of Gatsby only begins to be tainted once he learns of his relationship with Daisy. Nick's dislike does not stem from jealousy; it comes from the fact that Gatsby shapes his life around what Daisy wants. Nick does not see Gatsby as a real person, only as an image set out to please Daisy and conform to what she desires. The epigraph of the novel states:
Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her;
If you can bounce high, bounce for her too,
Till she cry 'Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover,
I must have you!' -Thomas Parke D'Invilliers
Gatsby embodies this statement in the fullest, and thus Nick is scornful of the fact that he changes himself repeatedly. When Gatsby is waiting outside Daisy's house the night after the fateful crash, he tells Nick: "I thought so; I told Daisy I thought so. It's better that the shock should all come at once. She stood it pretty well" (151). This disgusts Nick, who is shocked that Gatsby can think only of Daisy under the circumstances: "He spoke as if Daisy's reaction was the only thing that mattered...I disliked him so much by this time that I didn't find it necessary to tell him he was wrong" (151). Nick dislikes Gatsby's take on relationships because it differs so greatly from his own. Nick has had many relationships with women, and Fitzgerald depicts his relationship with Jordan as rather intimate. However, Nick soon finds his relationship with Jordan dwindling. "I'd be damned if I go in; I'd had enough of all of them for one day and suddenly that included Jordan too" (150). In this scene, Nick finds that he has lost respect for Jordan and he decides to sever his connection with her. His ...