Hope And The American Dream Portrayed In Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

1727 words - 7 pages

“The Great Gatsby”, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, portrays a world filled with rich societal happenings, love affairs, and corruption. Nick Carraway is the engaged narrator of the book, a curious choice considering that he is in a different class and almost in a different world than Gatsby and the other characters. Nick relates the plot of the story to the reader as a member of Gatsby’s circle. He has ambivalent feelings towards Gatsby, despising his personality and corrupted dream but feeling drawn to Gatsby’s magnificent capacity to hope. Using Nick as a moral guide, Fitzgerald attempts to guide readers on a journey through the novel to illustrate the corruption and failure of the American Dream. To achieve this, Nick’s credentials as a reliable narrator are carefully established and reinforced throughout the story.

The American Dream is a sensitive and beloved topic in American culture. Discussing its failure and corruption needs to be done gently and morally. Fitzgerald understood this, and therefore acknowledged the need of a kind and cordial narrator within a materialistic society. Enter Nick Carraway, who on the first page lets readers know “In consequence, I’m inclined to reserve all judgments” pg 7. This statement already serves to set Nick up as a decent and honest man that can be trusted. To back up this statement Fitzgerald included a short section regarding Nick’s family and background.
The Carraway’s claim themselves to be loyal Americans. However, when Nick’s great uncle was called to fight in the Civil War, a substitute was sent in his place. This provides concrete evidence of Nick’s honesty. If he is able to see hypocrisy within his own family, there is no doubt that he is a forthright gentleman. Nick graduated from “New Haven” pg 8, proving that he is not only honest, but also competent. Throughout the first few pages of the novel, readers catch just a glimpse into Nick’s life, but that glimpse is enough to trust him fully. His narrating is very open and he brilliantly sets up the story. But Nick’s credentials as a trustworthy narrator continue to be reinforced throughout the story, as a way of reassuring readers that Nick remains decent while the rest of the characters continue on their downfall.
The meeting with Jordan Baker causes Nick to once again mention the topic of honesty. When he learned of her cheating in a golf tournament, Nick declared, “She was incurably dishonest” pg 58. This manifests a contrast between Jordan and Nick when a few lines later he says of himself “I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.” Pg 59. Nick let his honesty shine through when he admitted to himself that Jordan was a very selfish, greedy, and cynical person, but he loved her nonetheless. He did not feel the need to lie to himself and the readers in order to make Jordan sound amiable. Such an act shows that Nick remains unchanged even in the presence of a charming and rich lady. Nick also remained unchanged and...

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