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Narrative In "The Great Gatsby" Essay Question: How Is Nick And Ineffective Or Effective Narrator In "The Great Gatsby"

1085 words - 4 pages

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald uses the well situated, tolerant and open-minded narrator, Nick Caraway to effectively narrate the story of the morally decaying society in the 1920's Jazz age.

Fitzgerald opens the novel by introducing the reader to the narrator, Nick Caraway. Nick has recently moved away from his exhausted and bitter experience in the East and is now telling his story through the filter of time. Nick is recounting these distant events by way of memory, making it essential that the reader trusts his knowledge of these past events, seeing how time can disfigure recollections. Because the novel is narrated in third person, Nick is the only source of information for the reader, making it essential that the reader is able to trust Nick's opinion and judgment. To establish the necessary faith within Nick, Fitzgerald gives the reader certain details that make Nick an adequate narrator. To persuade the reader of his moral judgment Nick explains "In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."(5) From this quote the reader understands Nick is from a family that values a sense of moral judgment, encouraging the reader to gain more confidence in Nick's moral judgment. As Nick continues to sell himself as a narrator, he informs the reader he is an educated man, graduating from the respectful University of Yale, to empathize he is inelegant, and he will be able to recount the past events accurately. Nick describes his family to have been "prominent, well-to-do people in this middle-western city for three generations. The Caraways are something of a clan and we have a tradition that we're descended from Dukes of Buccleuch. I never saw this great uncle but I'm supposed to look like him."(7) Nick tries to convince the reader that he has the right to be involved in the story, even though he may not be wealthy, he has an upper class family ancestry. Fitzgerald's persuasive description of Nick implies the reader to trust and believe in Nick's knowledge, moral judgment and his right to be involved in the story.

Although Nick is not a main character, Fitzgerald gives Nick the role of narrator, a key reason being Nick's position in the novel with relation to the Buchanan's and Gatsby. Nick settles in a small house adjacent to Gatsby's massive mansion, in West Egg. Fitzgerald uses this contrast to show how much of a minor character Nick is at the start of the novel, his house, minuscule to its surroundings, just like his character at the beginning of the novel. Even though his house and character may be small Nick is Gatsby's neighbor and Daisy's cousin. Through these important aspects, Nick is drawn into the plot, epically when Nick is asked as a favor to help Gatsby pursue his dream, Daisy. Through Nick's contrast as a minor character to...

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