Narrative Analysis of Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby is a novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald wrote this story in first person narrative, from the viewpoint of Nick. The interesting thing about this narrative structure is that Nick is not the main character, but rather a witness of the main character. He is proven unreliable and biased many times throughout the story by concealing particular events, revealing his judgments of other characters and lying. Nick writes to create the impression he desires. As the narrator, Nick has the opportunity to disguise and emphasize certain character and situations within the story.

It is clear that Nick is leaving his unfavourable occurrences unmentioned. It is noted that much of his mysterious night with Mr. McKee is concealed, seeing as the only portion that the reader knows of is when “[Nick] was standing beside [Mr. McKee’s] bed and he was sitting up between the sheets , clad in his underwear” (Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, 38). This isn’t the only one of his relationships kept secret within the novel, either. Nick also hides the identity of the person he had “been writing letters [to] once a week and signing them: ‘Love Nick’” (Fitzgerald, 58).

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He only allows a vague glimpse into the person he is; however, he spends much time and great effort sharing his personal analysis of others. In fact, the little information he does provide, and emphasize, about himself is of how “[he is] one of the few honest people [he has] ever known” (Fitzgerald, 59). Honesty is a very common theme in this story. Nick makes many attempts to convince the audience that he is trustworthy throughout the novel. He seems to see himself as morally superior to any of the other characters in the story, noting that “a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth” (Fitzgerald, 2).

He makes a point to mention his father’s lecture to him, “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages you’ve had” (Fitzgerald, 1). The previous quote begins the novel; the quote enables Nick to attempt to convince the reader that he is reliable and sincere. However, he blatantly contradicts all of his claims that he is completely honest when Gatsby asks Nick for his opinion of him, and Nick “[begins] the generalized evasions that question deserves,” (Fitzgerald 65).

Clearly, Nick is not entirely honest, which causes the reader to question his reliability. Nick stated, “I’m inclined to reserve all judgements” (Fitzgerald, 1). However, this statement proves to be very untrue. Nick, being a character of his own, has a personal opinion regarding people and situations in his life that will, without a doubt, affect the ways in which he portrays certain characters and situations. This is something the reader must be well aware and sceptical of. In fact, every description that Nick gives has the potential to be biased.

For example, consider his description of Daisy, “[H]er face was sad and lovely with bright things in it . . . [and] there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget” (Fitzgerald, 9). He depicts Daisy as an incredibly enticing woman. While reading the novel, one will notice that Nick has an almost unnerving attraction to his cousin. Therefore, the question arises of whether Daisy is truly so intriguing, or if that is simply Nick’s perception of her. Nick writes this story two years after the events in the story occurred.

Yet the story is incredibly detailed. It is so detailed that the reader would believe it had been written the very next day. For instance, he dedicates nearly half of a page to describing Gatsby’s smile during their first encounter. This half-page description includes Nick explaining the smile as understanding him, believing in him, and “assuring [him] that it had precisely the impression of [him] that, at [his] best, [he] hoped to convey” (Fitzgerald, 48). It is impossible that anyone could remember such enormous amounts of detail after two years.

In order for Nick to write so intimately he must have constructed these details as he pleased. He is conscious of the impression he is making, “[R]eading what I have written so far, I’ve given the impression that the events of three nights several weeks apart were all that absorbed me” (Fitzgerald, 55; emphasis added). Adding or subtracting minor details, which he must do due to such late narration, enables Nick to create the impression he desires of each character. Vehicles and driving were major symbols within The Great Gatsby.

This ecomes particularly describes Jordan as “incurably honest” and “a rotten driver” (Fitzgerald, 58), nearly back-to-back. Something about driving skills and/or vehicles was mentioned regarding almost every main character; however, Nick’s car remains a mysterious object throughout the novel. Nick “ran the car under its shed” (Fitzgerald, 20; emphasis added), while Gatsby’s “Rolls-Royce became an omnibus” (Fitzgerald, 39; emphasis added). It is no coincidence that the symbols that would represent him were overlooked. Nick is unwilling to disclose the symbols that represent him; therefore the reader may be less willing to trust him.