Nick Carraway As Honest Liar In Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

1323 words - 5 pages

Nick Carraway as Honest Liar in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

 
     "Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known" (Fitzgerald Gatsby 64). So writes Nick Carraway in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, characterizing himself in opposition to the great masses of humanity as a perfectly honest man. The honesty that Nick attributes to himself must be a nearly perfect one, by dint of both its rarity and its "cardinal" nature; Nick asserts for himself that he is among the most honest people he has ever encountered. Events in the book, however, do not bear this self-characterization out; far from being among the most honest people in world, Nick Carraway is in fact a proficient liar, though he never loses his blind faith in his own pure honesty.

 

First, Fitzgerald's choice of the word "suspects" indicates, and almost guarantees, a certain uncertainty about that suspicion; the fact that these are fallible (and often self-deceiving) human beings making observations about themselves make that uncertainty even greater. The fact that "everyone" believes to be one of the "few" holders of a cardinal virtue solidifies the matter; simply put, excepting either an unrealistically optimistic view of human nature or an extremely broad definition of "the cardinal virtues", it is simply impossible to accept that all human beings everywhere exemplify one of the cardinal virtues of humanity. Some people must not have the cardinal virtue they suspect of themselves. Nick, however, seems to forget this fact at the colon and starkly asserts, "I am one of the few honest people I have ever known" (64). The choice of "am" is very important here; in Nick's mind, there can be no doubt about his honesty, though Fitzgerald's clever choice of words leaves the reader far less convinced.

 

The discussion immediately preceding the characterization is most pressing on an interpretation of this self-characterization, as it provides a clear example of Nick's dishonesty just moments before he claims to be perfectly honest. Nick says of Jordan Baker, "Her grey sun-strained eyes stared straight ahead, but she had deliberately shifted our relations, and for a moment I thought I loved her" (63). But, however, before he could actively pursue Miss Baker, he acknowledges, there was one little matter he had to deal with:

 

But I am slow thinking and full of interior rules that act as brakes on my desires, and I knew that first I had to get myself out of that tangle back home. I'd been writing letters once a week and signing them 'Love, Nick'...Nevertheless there was a vague understanding that had to be tactfully broken off before I was free. (64)

 

Immediately preceding his statement about being one of the few honest people he has ever known, he admits to both falsely proclaiming his love and perpetuating a "vague understanding" he had no intention of...

Find Another Essay On Nick Carraway as Honest Liar in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

Nick Carraway as Narrator of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

1108 words - 4 pages The Role of Nick Carraway as Narrator of The Great Gatsby     In The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald presents a specific portrait of American society during the roaring twenties and tells the story of a man who rises from the gutter to great riches. This man, Jay Gatsby, does not realize that his new wealth cannot give him the privileges of class and status. Nick Carraway who is from a prominent mid-western family tells the story. Nick

Impressions of Nick Carraway in Chapters 1 and 2 of "The Great Gatsby"

869 words - 3 pages In the beginning of the Great Gatsby, we are introduced to a number of characters through the main narrator, Nick Carraway. We are given hints and suggestions about how Nick can be portrayed as a narrator and as a main character. Throughout the first two chapters, we get an impression that Nick is an effective narrator and a key character in the novel. However, our opinions of him may differ as we get deeper into the story. Within the very

How and why does F. Scott Fitzgerald use Nick Carraway as his narrator of "The Great Gatsby"?

1954 words - 8 pages , our opinions are based on his. Carraway is a man who observes; this helps us see the story in as much detail as needed, without any important sections forgotten about. And perhaps, Fitzgerald is trying to make sense of his own life, which is similar to that of Gatsby, and uses an outside perspective, that of Nick Carraway, to analyse and foresee what is to come for himself."The Great Gatsby" - F. Scott Fitzgerald (Penguin Classics)

Why is Nick Carraway Fascinated in Gatsby?

664 words - 3 pages Throughout "The Great Gatsby", written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, we witness Nick Carraway’s obsessive fascination of Gatsby. Nick states at the beginning of the novel that he is morally repelled by the vulgarity of all the characters he meets during his stay in New York, with the exception of Gatsby. Although Gatsby sometimes acts immorally like the characters around him, something sets him aside in Nick’s eyes. In fact, Nick explains

The Great Gatsby & Nick

583 words - 2 pages In F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway serves dual roles. The first one introduced, Nick Carraway is the novel's most well-developed character. The opening paragraphs of the novel reveal Nick's morals and ideals as a person. Though believing himself to have been given a fair amount of the "fundamental decencies [that are] parcelled out unequally at birth", Nick still is inclined "to reserve all judgements" (6, 5

Importance of Nick Carraway, Narrator of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

1134 words - 5 pages " (Chambers 41).  Most importantly, Nick is the only character in the novel that changes.  Nick Carraway is the main character of the novel.  Without Nick, the important allegorical message would not be illustrated:  Money cannot buy love or peace of mind. Works Cited and Consulted: Berman, Ronald. "The Great Gatsby" and Fitzgerald's World of Ideas. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 1997. Chambers, John B. The Novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

849 words - 3 pages rich as she could, yet everyone saw right though that. Myrtle's ideals played a very important part in The Great Gatsby. -The best representation of a flapper in the book was none other than Jordan Baker. Jordan play golf professionally, which, before this time, was also unthinkable. Not only did she play golf as a pro... but she also cheated at it. Jordan was very dishonest... she was an all out liar at most things. This pushed her away from

Fitzgerald's, The Great Gatsby.

581 words - 2 pages Fitzgerald's, The Great Gatsby. The Great Gatsby Essay The Great Gatsby can be described, like many other novels, as one that revolves greatly around straining relationships. One such relationship is Tom and Daisy Buchanan's. The author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, successfully incorporates traces of this tension as early as the first few pages of the novel. A few of the best examples are those concerning dishonesty, lack of communication

Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

1170 words - 5 pages representing your country as war. Besides this, Gatsby is a direct parallel to author’s own economic and social struggles in his life. For example, Nick describes Gatsby as an “extraordinary gift of hope” (Fitzgerald, 2000, p. 8), a genuine and honest man, who later, gained a reputation for participating in prohibition crimes, in pursuit of an idealistic future. This directly corresponds by the fact that Fitzgerald, who as a young man became

Jay Gatsby as Tragic Hero of Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

971 words - 4 pages does for Daisy and not for nobody else. Gatsby never lost faith in his vision, it was totally pure and he pursues it with such great intensity that by the end of the book he is recognized as an admirable character. At the end of the novel, Nick "became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors' eyes-afresh, green breast of the New World" (182). He is describing the New World, as Dutch sailors from the Old World would have

Symbols Used in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

1207 words - 5 pages , objects, and gestures as symbols to portray the lack of moral and spiritual values of people and the different aspects of society in the 1920's. The colors which are spread throughout the novel are green, white, gold, and others. F. Scott Fitzgerald provides a social commentary on the 1920's in this novel. The Great Gatsby is an important American novel and not just a mere historical document depicting life in the 1920's. Like

Similar Essays

Consequences Of Nick Carraway As Narrator Of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

1441 words - 6 pages The Importance of Nick Carraway as Narrator of The Great Gatsby   In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald critiques the disillusionment of the American Dream by contrasting the corruption of those who adopt a superficial lifestyle with the honesty of Nick Carraway. As Carraway familiarizes himself with the lives of Tom and Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Baker and Jay Gatsby, he realizes the false seductiveness of the New York lifestyle and regains respect

Nick Carraway In Great Gatsby Essay

1119 words - 4 pages NICK CARRAWAY has a special place in The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. He is not just one character among several; it is through his eyes and ears that the story takes place. In this novel, Nick goes to some length to establish his credibility, indeed his moral integrity, in telling this story about this "great" man called Gatsby. He begins with a reflection on his own upbringing, quoting his father's words about Nick's &quot

In The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway As The Foil, Protagonist, And Narrator

629 words - 3 pages In The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Nick Carraway functions as both the foil and protagonist, as well as the narrator. A young man from Minnesota, Nick travels to the West Egg in New York to learn about the bond business. He lives in the district of Long Island, next door to Jay Gatsby, a wealthy young man known for throwing lavish parties every night. Nick is gradually pulled into the lives of the rich socialites of the East

The Character Of Nick Carraway In The Great Gatsby

578 words - 2 pages The novel begins with Nick Carraway, a young man from Minnesota and the narrator od this novel, moves to New York in the summer of 1922 to learn more about bond business. He rents a house in the West Egg district of Long Island, a wealthy but fashionable area populated by the newly rich. Nick's next door neighbor is mysteroius man named Jay Gatsby, who lives in Gothic mansion and throws lavish parties every Saturday night. Nick is unlike the