Nick Carraway: Friend, Critic, And Non Dreamer

1094 words - 4 pages

If the enemy of one’s enemy is a friend, Jay Gatsby must be the reader’s enemy. However, that remains unclear, because Nick Carraway—a friend of Mr. Gatsby—never supplies a clear point on the matter. His position as narrator of The Great Gatsby reveals Fitzgerald’s intention of projecting the mythical and dream-like nature of Mr. Gatsby. Gatsby lives the dream—money, status and the woman of his dreams—while the highly relatable Nick exists in the shadows of this man—without a dream. As told in this first-person narrative, the entire story and its events are filtered through the lens of the fallible Nick, and this gives way into the duality of the story. This duality reflects the dual nature of life and Gatsby. Nick’s opinion of Gatsby fluctuates from distrust to endearment, and throughout the entirety of the novel, Nick has no grasp on this seemingly mythical character. Fitzgerald highlights this contrast and duality to explain the uncontrollability of fate. It guides Gatsby to relive the dearest moment of his life, yet its indifference to his dream—the American dream—causes Gatsby’s life to crumble before his eyes. Watching all of this is Nick Carraway, and his fluctuating narration reflects Fitzgerald’s idea that fulfillment cannot be controlled. Nick embodies friendship, inconsistency, and a lack of drive. His capability of friendship and inconsistency as a narrator represents something inherently human about him. He carries the fascination and wonder of all mankind, yet his failure to pursue a dream is unnerving. Nick never wielded the key to fulfillment.
As a friend to Gatsby and the reader, Nick exists at the center of the novel’s relatability. Kent Cartwright—in his 1984 essay on the unreliability of Nick Carraway—explains that Nick’s likability implants the idea “that the resolution of the narrative will also bring about Nick’s personal fulfillment” (Cartwright 119). With his personal fulfillment, there comes the sense of mankind’s own likely chance at achieving its own personal ambitions. Fitzgerald utilizes Nick to reflect on how expectation or dreams hardly ever become reality, and when they do, reality turns into tragedy like the case of Jay Gatsby. Seemingly somber, this message merely implies Fitzgerald’s viewpoint that fulfillment and success are highly uncontrollable and tend to rarely be achieved. In addition to Nick’s message, he possesses a warm likability that becomes very familiar in the narrative of the story. Nick provides beautiful descriptions of places “so warm and soft, almost pastoral,” that he becomes a man who appreciates beauty and one that withholds an inner beauty (Fitzgerald 32). His sense of beauty and sheer likability provides a foundation for the desire of a happy future for him, so Fitzgerald initiates hope with Nick and his personality. Unlike Gatsby, he only portrays his narrator with an air of reality to emphasize that through one’s own lens, one can only see himself. Every other person exists as a...

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