The Great Gatsby - Nick Carroway's Role

Jeff Asaval

In his novel The Great Gatsby, author F. Scott Fitzgerald had the main character Nick Carroway stand out as being overall, a decent person. Nick stands out especially when being compared to the other characters in the story. It is Nick?s honesty with himself and toward others, his morality, and his unbiased, slow to judge qualities that make him the novel?s best character.


The chain of events that occur in the story begin with Nick meeting Jordan Baker at Gatsby?s party. It was this meeting that causes Nick to mention the topic of honesty. Nick learns about Jordan?s cheating in a golf tournament, and he realizes how dishonest Jordan really is. "She was incredibly dishonest," (Page 58) Nick said, adding, "Dishonesty in a woman is a thing that you can never blame deeply." (Page 59) Jordan seemed to contrast her own dishonesty with Nick?s honesty. On the night of the party, Jordan leads Nick to say,


"Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people I have ever known." (Page 60)


He supports his words with his actions as a narrator, as well as his role as a character in the story. As the narrator, he was honest with himself, one example being Nick admitting to himself that Jordan was not only dishonest, but selfish and cynical as well, but he loved her regardlessly. As the novel?s main character, he was the only one that did not feel the need to mislead other people. All of the other characters would use an impressive, unreal facade in order to attract people and make a good first impression. For example, Daisy acted completely different around company from when she was with Tom. However, this happened while Nick would always let his honest, true character show through the entire time.


Nick also seemed to be The Great Gatsby?s only uncorrupted, unmaterialistic character. Every other character, including Gatsby himself, seemed to think that money could buy happiness. Gatsby?s though process is a prime example of that: he thought that he could win over Daisy by impressing her with his extravagant parties. The fact is, Daisy, being materialistic herself, probably would have been won over, had she not been already married to a rich man. That materialism is what leads to the character?s corruption. Gatsby was so materialistic that his morality was completely lost ? he was led to break the law, gambling and bootlegging, in order to satisfy his materialism. Nick however, went unaffected by materialism. Nick was moral, and had more values; he valued hard work. After all, the reason he moved to the East was in search of work as a bond salesman. When Gatsby asked Nick if he was interested in "side money," which Nick believed was gained by illegal means, he refused because it would have been immoral. Also, as stated earlier, Nick did not feel the need to impress other people with what he owned, or with a high-culture personality. Because Nick was not materialistic like the other characters, he remained uncorrupted, and his morality was not lost in search of money and power.


Finally, Nick was unbiased and slow to judge, making him the most reasonable and intelligent character, and showing that he is not naive like the others. Nick tells about his father?s advice to him,


"Whenever you feel like criticizing someone, just remember that all the people in this world haven?t had all of the advantages you?ve had." (Page 1)


Nick then says,

"In consequence, I?m inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened up man curious natures to me, and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores." (Page 1)


One example that supports his words is just before Nick met Gatsby, when he heard rumors about Gatsby?s past. Jordan?s friend Lucille said, "Somebody told me that thought he killed a man once." (Page 44) Lucille followed that statement with, "It?s more that he was a German spy during the war." (Page 44) The Gatsby rumors continued from there. However, Nick went unaffected by what he had heard ? if he believed it, he would have never given Gatsby a fair chance, and his opinion would have been narrated into the text. Instead, he learned the truth from Gatsby himself. The fact that he was slow to