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Hayley Barriere-Does Nick really like Gatsby?
Transcript of Hayley Barriere-Does Nick really like Gatsby?
By F. Scott Fitzgerald
Does Nick really like Gatsby?
"Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction - Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away." (Fitzgerald 2)
"No - Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men." (2)
At the beginning of the novel when Gatsby is first mentioned, Nick is reflecting on his life and Gatsby. He likes Gatsby and finds him incredibly compelling, but he disapproves of the type of person that Gatsby represents - the wealthy that only look out for themselves. He uses words and metaphors that make Gatsby sound very perplexing yet wonderful, whereas he uses negative words to describe the stereotypical wealthy person that Gatsby represents.
"'Well they say he's a nephew or a cousin of Kaiser Wilhelm's. That's where all his money comes from.'" (32)
"As soon as I arrived I made an attempt to find my host..." (42)
"'There's something funny about a fellow that'll do a thing like that,' said the other girl eagerly. 'He doesn't want any trouble with anybody.'
'Who doesn't?' I inquired." (43)
"We all turned and looked around for Gatsby. It was testimony to the romantic speculation he inspired that there were whispers about him from those who had found little that it was necessary to whisper about in this world." (44)
"He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life." (48)
At this point, Nick has heard a lot of rumors about the mysterious Gatsby, most of which made Gatsby sound quite frightening. Nick admits that he is a little afraid of Gatsby, however, he is still incredibly curious about him, which is revealed by Nick's actions and the words he uses to describe Gatsby.
"'I'm scared of him. I'd hate to have him get anything on me.'" (32)
"'Look here, old sport,' he broke out surprisingly, 'what's your opinion of me, anyhow?'
A little overwhelmed, I began the generalized evasions which that question deserves." (65)
"I hadn't the faintest idea what 'this matter' was, but I was more annoyed than interested." (67)
"...for a moment I was sorry I'd ever set foot upon his overpopulated lawn." (68)
"'I don't like mysteries,' I answered, 'and I don't understand why you won't come out frankly and tell me what you want.'"(71)
"'You're acting like a little boy,' I broke out impatiently. 'Not only that, but you're rude.'"(88)
"So I take advantage of this short halt, while Gatsby, so to speak, caught his breath, to clear this set of misconceptions away... For several weeks I didn't see him or hear his voice on the phone..." (101)
As time goes on, Nick's curiosity about Gatsby begins to turn into annoyance towards him. The way Nick describes Gatsby and Gatsby's actions changes drastically and reflects his annoyance, and he begins to address Gatsby in a slightly scurrilous and blunt manner.
"'A lot of these newly rich people are just big bootleggers, you know,'
'Not Gatsby,' I said shortly." (107)
"Wondering if he were sick I went over to find out..." (113)
"I wanted to get up and slap him on the back. I had one of those renewals of complete faith in him that I'd experienced before." (129)
Soon, Nick begins to realize that Gatsby truly loves Daisy and that is why he has seemed a little overbearing. Nick again begins to like Gatsby, defending him, checking up on him, and regaining faith in his character.
"I disliked him so much by this time that I didn't find it necessary to tell him he was wrong." (143)
"So I walked away and left him standing there in the moonlight - watching over nothing." (145)
"'You ought to go away,' I said. 'It's pretty certain they'll trace your car." (148)
After the incident with Daisy hitting Myrtle in Gatsby's car, Nick is furious with Gatsby. He despises him, and wants nothing to do with him. During this time, Nick is very blunt in the way he speaks about and to Gatsby. He uses negative words, words that he does not normally use when talking about Gatsby.
"I didn't want to go to the city. I wasn't worth a decent stroke of work, but it was more that that - I didn't want to leave Gatsby. I missed that train, and then another, before I could get myself away." (153)
"'They're a rotten crowd,' I shouted across the lawn. 'You're worth the whole damn bunch put together.'" (154)
"It was the only compliment I ever gave him, because I disapproved of him from beginning to end." (154)
"I found myself on Gatsby's side, and alone." (164)
"I wanted to get somebody for him. I wanted to go into the room where he lay and reassure him..." (164)
"...Gatsby and me against them all." (165)
"'We were close friends.'" (168)
"After Gatsby's death the East was haunted for me..." (176)
Nick's anger towards Gatsby does not last long. He soon returns to being enthralled with Gatsby. After Gatsby's tragic death, he is on Gatsby's side and is the only person looking out for Gatsby after he dies. He uses diction that makes the audience feel mournful towards Gatsby.
Nick feels many conflicting feelings towards Gatsby throughout the novel. He goes back and forth between liking Gatsby and disliking Gatsby. However, throughout the entire novel, there is no denying that Nick is fascinated by Gatsby. No matter what Gatsby says or does, Nick is always by his side.
They say the best way to judge a person's character is by the actions they take when no one else is around. After Gatsby's death, when no one is there to see Nick, not even Gatsby himself, he still stands by Gatsby. He is looking out for Gatsby and trying to make sure Gatsby's death is as dignified as his life was. The fact that Nick was the only person who cared enough about Gatsby to stick by him shows that he considered Gatsby a true friend.
Nick may have disliked the wealthy class and what they stood for, but as far as Gatsby himself goes, Nick viewed him differently. Gatsby changed Nick's life during that summer in New York, and Nick truly did like him, even if he did not always admit it.
by Hayley Barriere