The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald "The Great Gatsby", a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is about the American Dream, and the downfall of those who attempt to reach its illusionary goal. Nick Carraway, the narrator, is also a functioning character in the book, meaning that his personality may affect the retelling of the story. After associating at lengh with the morally corrupt East Eggers, Nick gradually loses objectivity in his narration because of his moral personality and inclinations. At the very beginning of the book, Nick writes that his father had once told him, "Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had." This statement is the basis on which Nick begins to shape his narration of the novel. Nick's moral personality is revealed in the first few paragraphs of chapter one. Because he is firmly seated in his moral beliefs, Nick finds it spiritually abrasive to live in West Egg, and ultimately moves back to the midwest, to his former home. This move back home symbolically represents moving back to a world of moral structure, a type of place that Nick is accustomed to. He is not led into a downfall by the false rewards promised by the move east. Trying to cope with eastern people and their lifestyles, he constantly reminds himself to attempt objectivity and reserve personal judgments towards the other characters. For the first half of the book, Nick evidently tries to withhold himself from acting upon the faults he finds in other characters. He notices defects in people's personalities and the results of those basic defects; for example, although he realizes that Jordan Baker is a shameless and incurable liar, he is willing to accept the fact and reserve his judgments about her. Nick's objectivity as a narrator is reflected in his words describing himself-he says he "was both within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life" (40,9-11). By this he means that although he played an active part in the story, he would look at it from a distance, from a narrator's perspective; he would report everything as it was whether he admired it or despised it. Another indication of Nick's objectivity is his sense of humor, evident in various places of the book. He describes what he sees in a somewhat comically critical and impersonal way. An example of this aspect of Nick's attitude is when he hears Gatsby's ridiculous and ludicrous life story, and says that "The very phrases were worn so threadbare that they evoked no image except that of a turbaned "character" leaking sawdust at every pore as he pursued a tiger through the Bois de Boulogne." (70,15-18) Nick begins to develop a fuller sense of moral responsibility, however, starting at his thirtieth birthday. He realizes that at this age, he is no longer capable of tolerating such immorality as that of the people from the wealthy eastern society. He personally sees how lightly Jordan, Tom and Daisy react to the death of Myrtle Wilson, and he is appalled. He knows that now is the time for him to leave. Nick's moral development is perhaps partially a result of his acting as narrator to the story. He notices every flaw in the other characters' personalities, and he sides with Gatsby because he can tell the difference between Gatsby's personality and those of the established rich people of East Egg-Gatsby lives a selfless life in order to attain his dream, while the East Eggers are constantly being selfishly concerned with their material possessions, because they believe that material alone constitutes the American Dream. Although Nick is inclined to reserve all judgment at first, he begins to take sides with Gatsby when he realizes that the East Eggers' vision of the American Dream is merely a corruption of it-that it is not material possessions alone that fulfill this dream. As he turns thirty, Nick realizes that his youth has passed, and he cannot continue to exist in such a morally corrupt place. He thus sides with Gatsby until his ultimate trip west.