Consider the narrators role in the Great Gatsby

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Name: Choy Kok Seng Adrian                                                        Class: 5.04

English A: Language and Literature (Part 3: Texts and Contexts)

Consider the narrator’s role in the Great Gatsby.

        The ‘Great Gatsby’ was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. In his novel, he adopted a unique style of first-person narration. The narrator of the story was Nick Carraway, a young man from Minnesota in the Midwest. He was born into a well-situated family and graduated from Yale. Soon after, he entered the military service to fight for his own country in World War I. After this, in 1922, he moved to the glamorous melting pot of New York to learn more on bond businesses after the war had drastically changed his perceptions of the world. In the West Egg, he rented a small cottage and became Gatsby’s neighbor. This was the start of Gatsby’s tale based on Carraway’s point of view. Carraway, as the narrator, accounted for the various events and happenings that he had witnessed throughout the dreadful four months of summer in 1922. Besides accounting for the various events, Carraway had also given his own insight and opinions on the events himself. Much can be said about Carraway as the tale’s first person narrator where he mostly plays a passive role in the events of the story but at some points, actively participates in the events.

        As the narrator, Carraway confessed that he was an unbiased and objective person in the first chapter. He himself mentioned that he was ‘inclined to reserve all judgment, a habit that has opened up many curious natures’ to him. This shows reliability in his accounts and witnesses of the various events. In a sense, it shows that the narrator had no judgmental view on the events of tale which encourages the reader to trust Carraway’s eyes as the recorder of events. In most of the events, he was rather calm and reserved at the beginning which reflected on Carraway as a good narrator as his vision was not clouded by his judgments. This can be seen whereby he had followed Gatsby around the house when he was showing Daisy his house. At that time, he played a rather passive role as an observer and reserved his opinions to himself. Besides confessing his narratorial position of privilege, he further fulfills the role of a narrator by describing the setting of Gatsby’s tragic tale. He introduced his own background story of being born into a prominent and well-to-do family which further rectifies his position as a narrator. He describes the societal setting of the story whereby there is an existence of a mélange of social classes. Besides that, Carraway had also introduced characters in the story through his own observations and insights. An example would be him introducing Tom Buchanan in the first chapter. Tom Buchanan was described as a man who had ‘two shining arrogant eyes’ and ‘a body capable of enormous leverage’. Thus, as a narrator, Nick Carraway has basically gives readers the first impressions on characters. Carraway’s clear description the various people he had meet throughout the story helps readers to get an image of how the character seemed like in the eyes of Carraway.

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        Besides that, Carraway’s well-suited role as a narrator is most likely due to his background. As someone who had just moved from the Midwest, Carraway was innocent and ignorant. He was unaware of the moral decadence and corruption within society’s hierarchy. With this form of ignorance and innocence in the beginning of the tale, he starts off as a reliable eye-witness to the events. He plays a role of neutrality between the conflict of characters such as the fight and argument between Tom and Myrtle. Without knowing much, he had no choice to reserve his judgments on others and often ...

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