Nick Carraway in the Great Gatsby

Linda 1
Linda Yang 楊子儀 97121382
Prof. Joel Janicki
American Literature
22 May 2011
Nick Carraway’s Self-understanding in The Great Gatsby
    At the first sight of the title, The Great Gatsby, one might expect to have a vivid picture of how this Gatsby be presented as a legendary person; however, the central puzzle of The Great Gatsby is actually the seemingly simple and heart-to-heart Nick Carraway, who eventually transforms into a whole new version of himself that even he himself has not expected to be. Unlike the static characters in The Great Gatsby, including Jay Gatsby, Daisy Fay, Jordan Baker, and Tom Buchanan, Nick changes substantially during the course of the novel, which makes he stand out a mile among the crowd, change his points of view on Gatsby and his dream, and finally assert the “greatness” of Gatsby. Therefore, the story can be considered the process of illumination and self-understanding of Nick Carraway.
    Slow-thinking Nick does not learn immediately from his experiences with Gatsby, but retrospectively. Nick’s slowness in learning makes his narration and
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enlightenment credible to readers who witness what his experience may teach him (Parker, 35). Growing up in a prominent family in the Middle West, Nick Carraway feels a little bit complacent and snobbish. In spite of his social connection with well-to-do people, like his distant cousin Daisy and a college classmate Tom, Yale-educated Nick doesn’t belong to them. Unlike the people who surround him, Nick has a particularly sharp and judgmental eye for everyone he meets, which unveils his inclination to analyze and criticize other characters although he is pretty good at getting along with everyone in public. It seems that Nick sees himself as a gentle Midwesterner, whose well-established background provides him with the “secure sense of moral standards and identity” (Parker, 36) -- as the self-sufficient young man...