“Gatsby turned out all right in the end.” Paying close attention to language and technique, explain to what extent does Nick’s narrative lead you to agree with this judgement.
“The Great Gatsby” is chiefly concerned with the elusive Jay Gatsby and his role as a superficial socialite in 1920s New York. Everything in the novel is filtered through the romantic eyes of Nick Carraway (the main narrator) and so it is hard to come to clear judgement of the complicated character of Gatsby, the eponymous self-made millionaire who seems to live a hedonistic and yet shallow existence. Nick clearly states at the beginning that he does believe that Gatsby “turned out all right”, although it also becomes clear that we cannot always trust Nick as a narrator as even he admits that “his tolerance has a limit”, and even other characters state that he is not quite as he seems; Tom calls Nick “crazy” and Jordan states that Nick is a “bad driver” which could suggest that he has lost control of his life. Gatsby also symbolises the Romanticism that Nick was striving towards, and so, in order to create an objective view of Gatsby, we need to try to filter out Nick’s bias.
Gatsby in this novel seems to be the embodiment of the American dream and has the remarkable ability to dream and “[an] extraordinary gift for hope”. Gatsby manages to transcend class boundaries by coming from a poor “clam-digger and a salmon-fisher” to obtain great wealth and success, but he has to completely reinvent himself. Jay Gatsby is actually a creation of James Gatz, a seventeen-year old farm boy from North Dakota. Gatsby’s whole life is a façade and ultimately “[he] sprang from his Platonic conception of himself”. Gatsby doesn’t just want to be rich and he wants to belong to the upper classes and he feels that he has to conceal his real background and adopt the persona of an eccentric aristocrat to be accepted. The fact that even his name is not real shows that Gatsby is completely superficial and also could suggest that American Dream has been corrupted and that it’s not within everyone’s grasp as you have to become someone else to achieve it. Gatsby bought into the values of the corrupt society of the rich by throwing excessive parties that he doesn’t even enjoy. At his parties, Gatsby stands “alone on the marble steps” which makes him seem God-like, watching the crowds from above and shows the reality that no one really knows who he is, “Gatsby? What Gatsby?”. Interestingly, when Daisy finally comes to a party Gatsby joins the crowd and seems to lose his God-like status. Because Gatsby is so concerned with maintaining his created persona, he keeps his distance with most characters and doesn’t let his guard down: Nick describes him as being in “complete isolation”. Also, the manner by which Gatsby gained his wealth is vague, but it is clear that they were criminal. Meyer Wolfshiem, a king-pin in the criminal underworld of the 1920s, states that he “made him” which suggests that Gatsby did not inherit his money as he had said. This example of frame narrative allows other characters to give their perspective on Gatsby.