3 / 6 / 00
Nick Carraway has a very important part in this novel. He isnt just one character among several others. It is through his eyes and ears that we form our opinions on the other characters. Often, readers of this novel confuse Nick's views with those of F. Scott Fitzgerald's because the fictional world he has created closely resembles the world he himself experienced. But not all narrators are the voice of the author. Before considering the gap between author and narrator, we should remember how we, the readers, respond to the narrator's perspective, especially when that voice belongs to a character who, like Nick, is an active participant in the story.
When we, the readers, read any work of fiction, no matter how realistic or fabulous, we undergo a suspension of disbelief. The fictional world creates a new set of boundaries, making possible or credible events and reactions that might not commonly occur in the real world, but which have a logic or a plausibility to them in that fictional world. In order for this to be convincing, we trust the narrator. We take on his perspective, if not totally, then substantially. He becomes our eyes and ears in this world and we have to see him as reliable if we are to proceed with the story's development.
In The Great Gatsby, Nick goes to some length to establish his credibility, indeed his moral integrity, in telling this story about this great man called Gatsby. He begins with a reflection on his own upbringing, quoting his father's words about Nick's advantages, which we could assume were material but, he soon made it clear that they were spiritual or moral advantages. Nick wants his reader to know that his upbringing gave him the moral fiber with which to withstand and pass judgment on an amoral world, such as the one he had observed the previous summer. He says, rather pompously, that as a consequence of such an upbringing, he is "inclined to reserve all judgments" about other people, but then he says that such "tolerance . . . has a limit". This is the first sign that we can trust this narrator to give us an even-handed insight to the story that is about to unfold. But, as we later learn, he neither reserves all judgments nor does his tolerance reach its limit. Nick is very partial in his way of telling the story about several characters.
He admits early into the story that he makes an exception of judging Gatsby, for whom he is prepared to suspend both the moral code...