Nick Carraway’s Character in The Great Gatsby
Nick Carraway’s role in The Great Gatsby is more than just that of a narrator. He is the narrator of the well orchestrated Gatsby Drama but also an active character. He participates actively in its events and action. A wise and cultured young gentleman, Nick is also conscientious. He lends company to the readers throughout the novel, judging the events as they happen from his own unique perspective. His conscience and sense of morality differentiate him from the others.
Nick stands alone in the crowd. He feels somewhat lonely but much better than the filthily rich around him. He is a young man from Minnesota and a graduate from Yale who fought in the World War I. Then, he came to New York to indulge himself in bond business. He is generally quite reserved and honest. Nick is a confidant to Jay Gatsby, the central and most mysterious character of the novel who is full of troubling secrets. Being a friend of Gatsby, Nick gets a chance to peep into his soul and understand his love. Jay Gatsby is one of the newly rich living at Long Island and it does not take Nick very long to get to be friends with him. The important status in the novel that Nick enjoys is because of his closeness to Gatsby. However, He has got a more serious temperament as compared to Jay Gatsby.
Despite his riches, Gatsby is amiable and handsome as well as impressive. Nick is like his second providing him with emotional support and aiding him with his own wisdom. Gatsby is rich and spoilt. However, it is through Nick that readers get to know Gatsby’s truth. Gatsby cannot be seen entirely in separation from Nick. However, Nick is much more important than that and Fitzgerald has also used him as an anchor. He acts as a facilitator to reignite the romance between Daisy and Gatsby as he is Daisy’s cousin.
He is not the central character but still a very important one. It is mainly his temperament that makes him suitable to be the narrator of ‘The Great Gatsby. Generally seen as someone serious, Nick is different from the people among whom he stands. People tend to pour their secrets before him; he himself discloses in the opening chapters. Nick is not an ordinary character as he is both the narrator and the commentator. His perspective and temperament influence the readers. More than everything he is himself an important participant and player in the story of the novel. Nick despite not being a dominant character maintains a strong presence in the novel. It also appears like Fitzgerald created his character to lend credibility to Gatsby’s. Nick is honest and knows that despite not being honest in business, Gatsby is honest in love.
There is a powerful inner conflict going on within him. His conscience seeks truth and morality among the immoral and the untruthful. However, even his sympathy is unable to save Gatsby. Being Gatsby’s friend he finds his death appalling. At last he returns to Minnesotta feeling the hollowness of life on the Island and in the search of stronger moral values. From the beginning of the novel to its end, Nick has undergone a substantial change. He is the only character to have experienced this effect of conscience. In Nick, the readers also find a reflection of Fitzgerald himself. Fitzgerald has provided the readers with a perspective on things in Nick. Nick undergoes a major transformation as the story progresses towards the end. However, his personal integrity does not fail to impress readers throughout. The beauty of his character lies in his ability to watch things honestly from the background while also participating actively. He is not any less important as Gatsby’s friend and sympathizer than he is as the narrator or as Daisy’s cousin. In every role the readers find him equally good and serious and equally full of wisdom and sophistication.
Living next door to Gatsby brings an important status for Nick. However he also reveals the different sides of Gatsby’s character including his slyness and his innocence. It is also why he appears to be a reflection of the author in the story. Moreover so, he observes people keenly and like a commentator provides honest remarks on them. Another important thing that attracts readers to the character of Nick is his simplicity. In a way Nick’s character also enhances the beauty of Gatsby’s character and brings it before the readers in an easy to understand and respectable manner. Fitzgerald has cleverly managed to keep Nick close to all the important action while also keeping him in the background. Why so is easily understandable. Fitzgerald keeps Nick from becoming either Daisy or Gatsby.