The Great Gatsby. Is Nick a Reliable Narrator?
Is nick a reliable narrator? How does his point of view colour the reality of the novel, and what facts or occurrences would he have vested interest in obscuring? Nick’s basic contempt for mankind emerges in what he says and thinks as well as in descriptions of others. The novel begins by Nick insisting that he was “inclined to reserve all judgments,” and then spends the remainder of the novel forming judgments of all the other characters. Tom is crude, Daisy is shallow, Jordan is dishonest, George is spiritless, Myrtle is sensual-all based on his prejudices and judgement-.
He says, “My family have been prominent, well-to-do people in the middle-western town for three generations. ” Despite this claim, when the Buchanans ask Nick about the rumor of his engagement, he claims that he is too poor to marry. nick is too involved in events and relationships, he is biased. he is more sympathetic towards gatsby, and negative and sarcastic towards tom because of toms oppressive attitude towards him. this is evident in the novel, he speaks about toms affair with myrtl in such detail but doesn’t mention much about gatsby and his bootlegging. is contrasting views of these two people would have influenced the way he describes the events that took place. one can argue and say that nick is a reliable narrator beacause he is in the perfect position for narrating the novel, his gatsbys next door neighbour,daisys second cousin and knows tom from college. he can offer an eyewitness account for most of the events that happen to the main characters. nick is not the only one talking, if he was the only one talking, some might suspect that the events to be made up by nick himself. here are other people who tell nick about the past and their emotions like jordan and gatsby. therefore, nicks comment about how gatsby feels toward daisy is not entirelyhis imagination. nick is more of an observer and not one to take initiative “he follows the flow”, you could say that The advertisement of T. J. Eckleburg corresponds with Nick’s role, a witness to people being eaten alive by desire, envy and heartache. The fact that he is one of the characters, whether or not he allows his feelings and opinion to colour his narration comes into question.