F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby is a story that deals with an array of topics that range from greed and corruption, to lies and deceit. Fitzgerald creates a masterful character, Nick Carraway. Nick is a character that posses all of the qualities of a true friend. He is trustworthy, honest, and the most important quality he posses is his unbiased and non-judgmental nature. All of the qualities that Nick possesses have helped to make him such a lovable character and an extremely effective, and reliable as a narrator which in turn makes The Great Gatsby such an interesting novel.
The first quality that makes Nick so effective is his trustworthiness. This trait is apparent in Nick from the beginning of the novel. The quality of trust that Nick has is necessary for a narrator. The narrator is the medium through which a story is told. This quality is demonstrated immediately by Daisy’s husband Tom Buchanan. Mr. Buchanan (Tom) decides to take Nick to “meet (his) my girl” (pg. 28) when Tom is acquainted with Nick for only a short period of time. This ability to confide in Nick shows how trustworthy he truly is. Gatsby demonstrates another example of this quality.
Gatsby, like Tom Buchanan exposes a dark side to Nick early in their relationship. The dark side that Gatsby exposes to Nick is his deceitful ways, his bootlegging, and the association with Meyer Wolfsheim, the man who fixed the World Series of Baseball. When Gatsby so readily reveals his dark side, it is interesting. Gatsby tries so hard to be like the “Old Money” characters in the book, people similar to the Buchanans who shun the tactics Gatsby used to acquire his wealth. Even with his desire to be accepted ever present’, he still reveals to Nick the methods by which he acquired his fortune.
The next quality that makes Nick such a reliable and effective narrator is honesty. This quality helps strengthen the integrity of the novel. As stated before, the narrator is the medium through which the story is being told. For the narrator to be effective it must be trusted by the reader and go through events accurately, and objectively. Nick does this extremely well as a narrator. His narration of the events is not embellished. He is not affected by the insincerity of the other characters in the novel, and like Tom Buchanan and Gatsby, he does not have the burden of a dark side.
This quality of Nick’s is best shown toward the beginning of the novel, when Nick observed Jordan Baker cheating in a golf game. His response “It made no difference to me”(pg. 63) reflects the non-judgmental virtue bestowed upon him by his father. As Nick states in his first page “I am inclined to reserve all judgments” (pg. 5), which proves his honesty. He clearly states his impartiality, which allows the readers to sort out their own conclusions, free from influence of a biased narrator. The final and most important aspect of Nick’s personality is his ability to be unbiased, non-judgmental, and remain neutral throughout the whole novel.
He is able to reflect upon the advice of his father “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you have had. “(pg. 5) This is indicates the virtuous upbringing that Nick experienced. Nick might not have been as “prominent, well-to-do people” (pg. 7) as the Buchanans in an economic sense, but in a moral sense he benefited, another reason that makes him so reliable as a narrator did. His ability to remain neutral is seen in the way he introduces situations, too. For instance, his description of Jordan Baker gives support to this fact.
He states “She was a slender, small breasted girl with an erect carriage which she accentuated by throwing her body backward at the shoulders like a young cadet. “(pg. 15) His presentation of Jordan Baker, whom he “enjoyed looking at”(pg. 15) could have been in a more elegant, and graceful manner, rather than having Ms. Baker presented as a soldier. This ability to remain unbiased and neutral is the quality that most allows Nick to be so effective as a narrator. Nick’s lack of involvement, and his denial of his attraction to her, allows the reader the liberty to assess the character accordingly, and to make his/her own judgments.
In closing, Nick, as a narrator is so successful due to his appeal to the reader. This is because Nick posses the qualities of honesty, trustworthiness, and a non-judgmental nature which are all qualities that one would look for in a friend. His narration enables the reader to form their own opinions of characters, and to draw conclusions on their own. Fitzgerald’s technique of creating Nick as the narrator was a brilliant one, and was effective in relating a story plot full of deceit, lies, and corruption. Nick’s attributes have allowed him to navigate the audience through the story in an appealing style that can appeal to almost everyone.