“Nick Caraway is too deeply involved with events and relationships to be a reliable narrator” How tar do you agree with this statement? In the Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald analyses the disillusionment to the American Dream by contrasting the corruption of those who adapt a superficial lifestyle with the honesty of Nick Caraway.
As Caraway 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 for the Midwest he left behind This is why Fitzgerald needs an objective Narrator to convey and rove this criticism, and uses Nick not only as the point of view character, but also as a counter example to the immorality and dishonesty that he finds from New York.
In my opinion Fitzgerald must construct this narrator as reliable, due to the nature Of the Great Gatsby as a Novel; the reader would not believe the story if it were told from the perspective of any other character, as Fitzgerald cannot expect the reader to believe What the immoral and careless characters have to say. Whereas Nick is a man who is involved with all characters in the book, as a relative, friend, lover and next door neighbor, where he can see all aspects of the characters lives, even if it does include the dishonesty and tearing apart families.
Some may say that the involvement Nick has with the other characters portrays him as an unreliable narrator. Nick Caraway is not just a character among several; it is through his eyes and ears that the story takes place. Fitzgerald has gone to some lengths to establish credibility, and indeed Nick’s moral integrity, in telling the story about this ‘great man Jay Gatsby. The readers opening pages are ones where Nick begins with a reflection to his own upbringing, quoting his fathers words about his “advantages”, which e could assume were material but, he soon makes clear, were spiritual or moral advantages.
Nick wants his reader to know that his upbringing gave him the moral foundation with which to withstand and pass judgment on an immoral world. Because nick is influenced by his upbringing in the Midwest and stands for certain moral principles ‘I am one of the few honest people that have ever know’ it shows that he is a prig, smug self-righteous Midwesterner. However this statement also shows that he is naive and could be easily influenced, to the point were he is lured into the glittering false world of appearances.
Nick is also shown in the opening paragraphs that he is like most men looking for glory and high hopes, provided they find out how it is possible “l decided to go east – learn the bond business”. In Nick’s case he has dreams Of making lots Of money in a short while. Due to this the reader cannot expect Nick to be totally objective and his naivety shows that he is taken in by all those fake appearances. Some readers may say that because of this he is too deeply involved with events and relationships to be a reliable narrator.
However Nick states at the beginning of the novel quite pompously, that as a consequence of such an advantaged” upbringing, he is “inclined to reserve such judgments” about other people, but then goes on to say that such “tolerance… _has a limit’. This is the first sign the narrator gives the reader to show he will give an even-handed insight into the Story Of the characters, that is about to unfold.
Due to this, the description of himself in the opening chapter holds true throughout the novel: he is tolerant and slow to judge, someone With Whom people feel comfortable sharing their secrets, which the reader also feels a close relationship with him, because Of his willingness to describe himself in such honesty. Showing that even though Nick Caraway is involved with all the characters and events. He is still a reliable narrator because he comes across as real person. Then again Nick cites his fathers warning in these opening pages to “…. Member that all of the people in the world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had…. ” When criticizing a person, as the basis for what is proper in the world. Nick believes that his father is passing judgment on others while he is actually safeguarding Nick from making faulty judgments. As Scott Donaldson points out, it is apparent hat Nick’s father was advising tolerance rather than passing judgment. However the reader still believes every word Nick says about characters from the novel.
Like when Nick further extracts the tact that his father “snobbishly sense of the fundamental decencies is parceled out unequally at birth” even though there is no evidence that Nicks father neither stated or implied these decencies nor is there evidence that he did this in a snobbish manner. We as readers just accept Nick’s perceptions, but still it allows us to make our own perceptions of theses characters as different people stand for efferent morals and experiences in life. Therefore making Nick reliable as a narrator, as he also allows the reader to have there own opinions but also putting across his strongly.
The narrative point of view adopted by F. Scott Fitzgerald in the “Great Gatsby” also supports the novels criticism Of the upper class and the importance of wealth in society. Fitzgerald uses Nick as the narrator Who views the upper-class as entirely superficial. Through his observation of people at Gatsby party, at the beginning of chapter three Nick seems to feel that the wealthy are clones of a stereotype accepted and created y themselves, who never really no the other person they are interacting with, but instead trying to improve there own social status, ‘enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each others names’.
Nick’s judgment and criticisms are accepted here by the reader as impartial because Nick is the only major character who is not preoccupied with wealth. However Nick is also not overwhelmed by Gatsby, Cordon’s and the Buchannan lifestyle, as he is a man whom is educated and has been socializing with these people for many years, This implies that Nick will be an unreliable narrator, because he interacts with the there characters through parties and events, therefore having some sort of social hierarchy, with the so called wealthy characters. Asking Nick a writer, E Scott Fitzgerald combines an authorial capacity to comment and to pass judgment with the involved immediacy of the first-person voice. So we find him making carefully formulated and considered remarks whilst attending Gatsby parties such as “Instead of rambling, this part/ had preserved a dignified homogeneity, and assumed to itself the function of representing the staid nobility of the countryside – East Egg condescending to West Egg and carefully on award against its spectroscopic gaiety” which again is a judgment that the reader takes into account as trustworthy.
A few pages later however after this vary commentary, we find Nick thoroughly caught up in events “I was enjoying myself now. Had taken two finger-bowls of champagne, and the scene had changed before my eyes into something significant, elemental and profound’. Here Nick is still concerned to impress upon us the importance of events occurring in the narrative, but his seriousness is lightened by the image Of his own light-headiness, and by the immediate sense of his own pleasure. This wows that Nick becomes a figure to the reader that we must interpret.
As we are piecing together the puzzle about Gatsby, but also inevitably adjusting our sense of the man who is telling Gatsby story, which shows that Nick is a man who can deal with change and also fit into different lifestyles even if he may judge them before hand, showing the reader that he is reliable as he can interact with different events and people, therefore getting an overall view point of Gatsby, This statement can also make Nick seem unreliable as a narrator, as it shows how his opinions can change after getting “emotionally’ involved with certain harassers, as well as showing that he can be seduced by parties and appearance.
Nick also plays a role inside the narrative, where his readers do not no what to make of this. As he evidences a strongly mixed reaction to life on the east coast, one that creates a powerful internal conflict that he does not resolve until the end of the book. On the one hand, Nick is attracted to the fast-paced, fun driven lifestyle of New York. Blitz on the other hand, he finds that lifestyle grotesque and damaging. His mixed reactions and inner conflict is symbolized throughout the book by Nick’s romantic affair With Jordan baker.
He is attracted to her vivacity and her sophistication just as he is repelled by her dishonesty and her lack Of consideration for Other people. Nicks reaction to women is one that makes him come across as an unreliable narrator, especially his relationship With Jordan Which shows his unreliability as a character and narrator in the scene when Jordan is driving and Nick states “Your a rotten driver… ћyou ought to be more careful, or you ought to drive at all” after this ironic sentence which is as if Nick is giving us as readers an insight of the dangers of driving and the fate that awaits certain characters.
He goes on to say “For a moment thought loved her” here the reader does not no what to make of Nick, as throughout the novel Nick Caraway has been so open minded and come across as a man who lacked emotion. Never the less it shows that once emotionally involved with a character nick seems to overlook the insecurities, and the closer they become to him the more blurred they prove to be, as if Nick is afraid to jump to conclusions concerning his telling tort that character. Showing his unreliability.
This emotion with women shows that he has a romantic turn of mind pushing him to idealize certain characters. Such as his relationship with Daisy, he is bewitched by her voice, which he describes as a ‘nightingale’. He loves daisy but just like the love he has for Jordan, he remains aware of her selfishness and is not shocked by her carelessness. Nick himself states himself as honest’ however at times comes across as just as selfish, careless and dishonest as the women he loves.
This is shown when Nick talks about a woman he avgas writing to from back home, as he describes his relationship as ‘that tangle back home’ never the less he had be signing his letters ‘love Nick’ which shows his unreliability as he is playing with a persons emotions, and due to the reader feeling a slight change Of emotion to nick at this point, because Of his lack of emotion to this women. Many readers would say that this lack of care has come from Jordan, therefore making Nick Caraway to deeply involved With events and characters to become a reliable Narrator, especially after this scene.
The main success if the novel depends heavily upon Scott Fitzgerald control of how the figure of Jay Gatsby is presented to us. He has to be filtered through Nick Caraway’s narration at a suitable pace and with appropriate emphasis to sustain our interest without dispelling the necessary element of mystery, Expressing his reservations as well as his admiration at the outset, Nick himself becomes a figure that we must interpret, However Gatsby becomes a man that he actually isn’t due to the narration of Nick Caraway.
This is because Gatsby story is embellished with romanticism and poetic language, therefore been in contrast to what Jay Gatsby actually is. This is shown is the differences of writing when Gatsby himself is talking and when Nick talks about Gatsby. ‘l lived like a young rajah… Hunting big game… ND trying to forget something very sad that had happened to me long ago’ this is portrayed as very childlike and non poetic from Gatsby himself. Whilst on the other hand Gatsby life comes across as extravagant and poetic form Nick’s point venin’ ‘all he elusive rhythm, a fragment of lost words, that I had heard somewhere a long time ago’.
This makes the reader think of Gatsby as a man of wisdom and elegance; however as the hero’s tale novel states ‘Gatsby and his dreams are Nick’s creations’ but because Fitzgerald has created such an honest and trustworthy narrator, we as adders do not overlook the dullness of Gatsby, but instead see him as a romantic hero from Nicks opinions and perspective. Nick is not a random choice as a narrator, it is very well calculated. Nick’s willingness to describe himself and the contours Of his thoughts even when they are inconsistent or incomplete, give the reader a sense of reliability.
As well as his conflicted feelings about Gatsby fro instance, or the long musing at the end of the novel, which also makes him seem trustworthy and thoughtful. His position in relation to the other characters gives him a perfect vantage point from which o tell the story, he is Daises cousin, Tom’s old college friend, and Gatsby neighbor, were all there trust and rely on him, mainly around there lavish affairs, which is the major setting for most of the novel. Though Nick himself participates in this story its obvious its events have certainly affected him.
As the great Gatsby is not really his story in the sense of being about him, hoverer it is his story in the sense that it is of crucial importance to him: as he defines himself in the process of writing it, Indeed, he struggles with the stories meaning even as he himself tells it. Though Nick professes to admire Gatsby passion as a lover and a dreamer, Nicks own actions in his relationship with Jordan baker cast an ironic pall over his admiration, with Jordan: Nick is guarded, cautious, and skeptical.