NICK CARRAWAY has a special place in The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. He is not just one character among several; it is through his eyes and ears that the story takes place. In this novel, Nick goes to some length to establish his credibility, indeed his moral integrity, in telling this story about this "great" man called Gatsby. He begins with a reflection on his own upbringing, quoting his father's words about Nick's "advantages,” which we could assume were material but, he soon makes clear, were spiritual or moral advantages.
Nick wants his reader to know that his upbringing gave him the moral fiber with which to withstand and pass judgment on an amoral world, such as the one he had observed the previous
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Nick leaves the Midwest after he returns from the war, restless and at odds with the traditional, conservative values that, from his account, haven't changed in spite of the tumult of the war. It is this insularity from a changed world no longer structured by the values that had sent young men to war, that decides him to go East, to New York, and learn about bonds. After one summer out East, a remarkable summer for this morally advantaged young man, he "decided to come back home" to the security of what is familiar and traditional. He sought a return to the safety of a place where houses were referred to by the names of families that had inhabited them for generations; a security that Nick decides makes Westerners "subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.” By this stage, the East had become for him the "grotesque" stuff of his nightmares. This return home tells the reader many things about Nick. Nick is adversely affected by the events of that summer: the death of a woman he met briefly and indirectly, who was having an affair with his cousin's husband and whose death leads to the death of his next-door neighbor.
The only genuine affection in the novel is shown by Nick towards Gatsby. He admires Gatsby's optimism, an attitude that is out of step with the sordidness of the times. Fitzgerald illustrates this sordidness not just in the Valley of Ashes, but right there beneath the thin veneer of the opulence represented by Daisy and Tom. Nick is