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The Great Gatsby : Nick Carraway’s Perception

1214 words - 5 pages

Every character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, holds significant symbolic meaning, but none support the theme of Easterners compared to Westerners as wholly as Nick Carraway. In an impartial manner, Nick narrates and states his opinion on the events in the novel. Nick’s upbringing and simplistic way of thinking juxtapose with the debauchery of the East. Fitzgerald uses the opinions and actions of Nick to present the belief that people from the Western part of the United States live with simple, moral virtues while those from the East operate with corruption and shallowness.
Nick’s first important remarks come from his introduction to the novel and his background ...view middle of the document...

Fitzgerald allows the reader to judge the characters solely based on their actions and not the opinion of the author or Nick. For example, in chapter five of The Great Gatsby, Nick lists many of the people who attended Gatsby’s parties during the summer. Although Nick never states his opinion on the native Easterners, he only asserts facts that present the party-goers in a negative light. Nick describes three different families of people as conceited: “[They] flipped their noses up like goats at whoever came near” (66). Nick mentions a man who fights with a bum, someone who gets drunk and goes to jail, a man who strangles his wife, and, finally, a person who commits suicide by jumping in front a subway train. Readers can only conclude that the East possesses a significant amount of shallowness and corruption because Nick recounts only dark incidents. Fitzgerald obviously wants the reader to recognize that even though Nick reserves all judgment, he cannot help but formulate an opinion on the lifestyle of the Easterners at Gatsby’s parties because they exhibit a substantial lack of morality.
Fitzgerald writes of another prominent instance in which Nick cannot help but pass judgment on an Easterner for their shallowness. Klipspringer, a freeloader who lives off of Gatsby’s money for many weeks, calls Gatsby’s home before the funeral. Nick asks Klipspringer if he will attend the funeral and Klipspringer replies he only called to retrieve the tennis shoes he left in Gatsby’s mansion. At this point Nick, “ejaculate[s] an unrestrained ‘Huh!’” (177). Even Nick, the man who reserves all judgment on people, is disgusted by Klipspringer’s lack of ethics. Nick responds to Klipspringer’s request to deliver the shoes by hanging up the phone. The word’s, “ejaculate,” and, “unrestrained,” indicate Nick’s natural reactions and inability to hold back his judgment on Klipspringer‘s conduct. Fitzgerald wants the reader to realize that if Nick cannot help but detest the actions of Easterners then they must exist in a sizable state of corruption.
Near the end of the novel, Nick reflects on what he learns about the East and how it compares to his Western homeland. He describes two different situations: the first scene follows Nick’s memory of returning home from college for Christmas. His friends follow him to the train station just to bid him an affectionate farewell. The cars of the railroad are described as “murky yellow,” but still as “cheerful as Christmas” (184). Nick believes that the Westerners do not possess a façade of...

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