Explain the importance of Nick Carraway as a narrator in, "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
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Explain the importance of Nick Carraway as a narrator in, "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "For the majority of creative people, life is a pretty mean trick." Jay Gatsby is, without a doubt, a creative character. His life was a, "mean trick." He spent his life longing for the unreachable and was killed as a result. Nick Carraway's first-person viewpoint, allows the reader, to participate in his sense of discovery as the narrative takes on meaning at various levels of abstraction in such a way that the reader and Nick are linked in thought from the beginning of the book. On the most superficial level, Nick becomes a logical choice as narrator. His physical proximity to the main characters and his trustworthiness situate him ideally to serve as a confidant on several fronts, a character who knows details of the story from many points of view and observe much of the action firsthand. Nick keeps detached from the rest of the characters in "The Great Gatsby" because he has dissimilar views. He is used by Fitzgerald to subtly voice his own opinions.
Nick's importance comes through with the emphasis given to the valley of ashes. He uses it as a constant reminder of the reality that the other characters are ignorant of. Nick is a bookish character and represents the intellectual side of the 1920s. "Family Romance" was coined by Sigmund Freud in 1925 (the same year that "The Great Gatsby" was published) to describe the fantasy of being freed from one's parents and joining a higher social standing. A popular idea in America as an isolationist country with its inhabitants influenced by the American Dream; this also explains why Gatsby changed his name. Later in the book Nick undergoes a spiritual epiphany, "[he] suddenly was delivered from the womb of his purposeless splendour." The use of "womb" and earlier with "conception" interweaves a religious connotation with the idea of Gatsby's escape from his past, which is in fitting with Freud's Family Romance. Again, the use of the epiphany was a key feature of a new strand of writing fashionable in the 1920's used predominantly by James Joyce in "Dubliners" published in 1914.
The confused image of God in the book, most obviously when Wilson says, "you can't fool God'.......he was looking at the eyes of Doctor T.J Eckleburg", is indicative of the lack of moral direction widespread in the 1920s. Tom tells Myrtle that Daisy is a Catholic and can not divorce her. Nick is "shocked" by the lie. As Arthur Mizener remarks, it is Nick who at last achieves a "gradual penetration of the charm and grace of Tom and Daisy's world. What he penetrates to is corruption, grossness, and cowardice." Nick is eager to insert a spiritual edge to Gatsby that will separate him from the agnostic society by referring to his, "Platonic conception of himself ". Nick is the only individual sympathetic to Gatsby. Fitzgerald uses the character of Nick Carraway as a portrayal of a society, other than the socially privileged exemplified by his pathos towards Gatsby. Nick shows ambivalence in his dedication to satirising American society. He detests them and yet thrives off them. Nick is used as the modernist viewpoint with his first person narration and condemnation of contemporary society. He allows the story to have an intellectual depth as well as showing that F. Scott Fitzgerald was a writer of his time.
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