Nick Carraway's Presentation in Chapter 1

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Analyse F. Scott Fitzgerald’s presentation of his first person narrator, Nick Carraway, in Chapter 1.

Consider:

• What the narrator reveals to the reader – personal details, reasons and motivations • Narrator’s choice of language and style – vocabulary and imagery • Narrator’s relationship with the reader – how close do we feel to him? Do we warm to him on first impression?

By Nikita Schaap

In the novel, The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the character of Nick Carraway as his mouthpiece, his own little spy in the lives of the characters in the novel to relate back the events happening. Because of this, there are a number of things which we need to bear in mind about his narration such as to what degree it could be biased and how the first person descriptive effects the way that we portray Nick.

First being introduced into the novel, Fitzgerald has Nick Carraway talk about some advice that his father had given him when he was younger, therefore enlightening us to the way that he was brought up and how it has affected the way he is now. He still remembers the words: “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” This reveals to us that Nick is not of lower class and is very well educated, which is further reinforced by the fact that he went to Yale, one of the most highly esteemed colleges in the country.

Nick explains how doesn’t judge a person, which has therefore “opened up” people to him as they shared their troubles with him. However, we also get the impression that he is uninterested in the petty problems of people’s lives, as the comparison of “curious natures” to “veteran bores” is used, suggesting that while some of the people who confided in him intrigued him, others may have just left him sitting there offering mild condolences, a “victim” who’s subject to listen to their inconveniences when they were “unsought”: he didn’t...
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