The Role of Nick Carraway As Narrator in The Great Gatsby The novel “The Great Gatsby” can be best described as a narration of a series of events as viewed through the eyes of an important central figure (Nick Carraway) around which a story takes form. A general lack of importance associated with the part a narrator is a generalized notion deduced from the analysis of most novels. However, a reevaluation of the narrative process played by Nick Carraway is in place when it comes to the novel, “The Great Gatsby” as such a concept holds little truth within the domains of such work of literature. The process of portraying virtually all physical and emotional actions and the inferred establishment of a moral norm are two of the main perspectives achieved through the author’s usage of narration through Nick. His vital role is the flow of the novel is hence an indication as to his importance as a character in general.
This vital role can be first of all seen in the primary role of Nick as a narrator. Physical and emotional actions/reactions of characters within a story relates a great deal to individualistic personality which in turn helps the author generate his/her idea of a certain person/group of people within the mind of the reader. Such a function is undertaken by Nick who is endowed with a keen sense of observation which he uses to reveal the nature of each character. Through Nick, the reader is able to sense the shallow emotional depth Tom Buchanan is capable of experiencing and his apparent harshness of attitude towards others. The brutality of Tom towards his mistress, Myrtle Wilson, as described by Nick (page 37, line 5 – below) is highly demonstrative of this fact. In comparison, we see Gatsby, on the other hand as generally being a physically an emotionally reserved person (but not when it comes to Daisy). His general hospitality and mysteriousness as described by Nick creates an air of splendour and establishes him as a source of profound curiosity in the minds of others.
In their own way, other characters are exposed to the reader as well when Nick comes into contact with them. He is thus seen to play a vital role in portraying the emotional disposition underlining each character through their physical involvement in the novel. It should be noted that unlike most other narrative description of events, Nick’s role in “The Great Gatsby” extends even further into the lives of each of the other characters. The moral standard by which all other persons are uniquely judged is created through the establishment of a central view point of single narrative character in the novel. The word “unique” is used to describe the form of evaluation Nick partakes in due to his total absence of any form of critical analysis.
This lack of personal judgement is seen to manifest itself in the mind of the narrator from the very beginning of Nick’s youth through the words of his father. Nick’s realization of the equality of man altered through his origin sets him up as a morally sound standard by which all other characters can be measured. It is this personality trait of his which leads him into relationships with people with a great array of morally sound/deficient values. Jordan Baker is described by the author as a woman with an “incurably dishonest” personality. Yet Nick accepts her into the emotional side of his life; proving his firm belief in the concept of being morally reserved in judgement.
As described by the author, Nick is not blind to the heartlessness of the Buchanan family and it is only through a crisis that Nick sees how far his limits have actually been surpassed. His acceptance of such people through the course of the novel allows the reader to observe a contrast between these characters of society. Their moral values are exposed for the reader through this and we are hence allowed a greater insight into what the true nature of the character really is. Nick thus plays an important function in portraying the deviation of each person in the novel as related the moral standard the Eastern society which the author uses as the norm. It is through such an analysis that the true importance of the narrator in the novel is realized.
Through physical and emotional observations through Nick, we are allowed a general feel of each character. A greater depth is added to each personality as the reader distinguishes between the moral standard Nick holds and the morality of those around him. The duality of Nick’s role in the novel is thus a clear indication of the importance he holds in the progress of the story.