The (Un)Reliable Narrator Essay

843 words - 4 pages

The Great Gatsby is narrated by Nick Carraway. Nick tells the story of the things he experienced when he moved to New York City to work in the bonds business. The reader is told the story, which includes Nick’s perception and opinion in certain events. The reader wants to believe that Nick is a reliable narrator and he seems to be one, in the beginning. Nick describes himself as “one of the few honest people that I have ever known” (Fitzgerald, 59). Although, Nick thinks this of himself, there are many things in the story that hint otherwise. In The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Nick is not a reliable narrator. This is seen through his negative judgments of others, his friendship with Gatsby, and because he does not know everything about Daisy and Gatsby.
First, throughout the novel Nick is constantly judging others. In the beginning paragraphs he mentions a lesson his father once taught him. “In consequence, I’m inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores” (1). Nick is proud of the fact that he listens to others because of his ability to reserve his judgments, but in this same line he still calls them “bores.” This is shown, constantly throughout the novel. Another time he does this is when he is talking about young men which truly reflects what Nick is like. “In an interesting confession, Fitzgerald gives a clue to Nick’s true nature. Speaking of other men, Nick says, ‘“the intimate revelations of young men or at least the terms in which they express them are usually and marred with obvious suppressions’” (Labbot, The Reliability). This shows that Fitzgerald was forewarning about Nick’s narration of the story. The next time he does this is when he is at Daisy’s having dinner; Tom is discussing a book he has recently read at dinner. “There was something pathetic in his concentration, as if his complacency, more acute than of old, was not enough to him any more” (Fitzgerald, 13). Although, Tom is being obviously racist, he is stating his opinion on what the book said and Nick instantly judges him for it. This is seen many times throughout the novel to most of the characters, with the exception of Gatsby.
Second, his friendship with Gatsby affects the way he tells the story. Gatsby is the only one that...

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