The Trouble With Nick - Reading Gatsby - Scott Donaldson's book entitled 'Fitzgerald and Hemingway: Works and Days'
Read the following essay on Nick Carraway and create a character profile using your own notes and the notes from the essay.
Nick Carraway was born in 1892 in Minnesota, Middle-West of the United States, as the son of a well situated family. His grand uncle had started the family’s hardware business in 1851. He went to elementary, middle and high school in the Middle-West. After that he was sent to Yale University by his family. Nick was sent to France, when the United States entered the Great War in 1917, in order to fulfill his military service. After this time, in 1922, he decided to move to New York to learn the bond business, because the war had changed his perspective of the world. The rural narrow mindedness was not his world anymore. In West Egg, a district of Long Island, he rented a small house, and became a neighbor of the mysterious Jay Gatsby.
The Great Gatsby is a novel of tragedy. In ancient Greek literature, a tragedy involved the downfall of a noble character with a tragic flaw (called hamartia). The Great Gatsby records the downfall of two characters with at least some noble characteristics: Gatsby and American society. Their tragic flaws are naive idealism and corrupt behavior. The Great Gatsby was Fitzgerald's third novel.
Point of ViewNick Carraway tells the story in first-person point of view. In describing and analyzing the characters, he sometimes relies on second-hand information, or hearsay, that he is unable to verify. For this reason, analysts of the novel sometimes refer to him as an unreliable narrator. However, he seems to do the best he can. His account, his commentary, and his interaction with the characters make him resemble the chorus in an ancient Greek tragedy.
Among the symbols Fitzgerald uses in the novel are these:
East Egg, Long Island: This community, where the Buchanans reside, represents the long-established aristocrats, or "old money." Its residents generally are corrupt and jaded.
West Egg, Long Island: This community, where Gatsby and Nick Carraway reside, represents the nouveaux riches, or "new money." Its residents tend to be regarded as upstart outsiders by the East Egg crowd.
The Green Light: It represents Gatsby’s dreams and gives him the go-ahead to pursue them.
The Valley of the Ashes: This lower-class section of Queens is so named because of the soot deposited there by passing steam locomotives. The valley represents the corruption that the upper-class characters inflict on society.
The Eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleberg, Ophthalmologist: Displayed prominently on a billboard, they apparently represent the eyes of God watching the characters play out the drama.
The Weather: It represents the shifting moods of the characters. For example, Gatsby and Tom angrily confront each other in a hotel room on the hottest day of the year.