Within and Without

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The narration in The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald comes from Nick Carraway, an outsider and new addition to West Egg. From the very beginning, Nick Carraway claims to give an honest portrayal of the lives of Jay Gatsby and the Buchanans and makes a point in stating that he is “inclined to reserve all judgments” (Fitzgerald 1). A neutral narrator allows the reader to analyze the characters on their own as they form a relationship with them throughout the book. On the other hand, with a personal account of Nick’s experience, the reader is continuously reminded to consider the storyteller’s role as a character foil in the novel. Without an involved narrator, the reader often accepts the perspective of the narration and forgets to question any existing biases. Whether or not a present narrator is beneficial to the story, Nick writes the book with the intention of telling the entire truth. Despite his failure in delivering a completely subjective account, his own opinion acts as an additional aspect to examine as his narration reflects the impact Gatsby has on Nick himself. He may not be as honest as he claims, but he presents worthy opinions and backs them up with evidence.
In the beginning of the novel, Nick Carraway finds himself injected into the lives of Jay Gatsby, and Daisy and Tom Buchanan. As Nick becomes familiar with the company of the Buchanans and Gatsby, he goes against his principles. Early on, Nick tells us that he is “one of the few honest people that I have ever known” (Fitzgerald 170). He may be the most ethical character, but by implying that his story is truly objective is incorrect. Nick comes into their lives as a naïve visitor from the West and leaves with contempt for the people he once called his frien...

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...olved character and is not completely neutral, but at the same time this makes him the most ideal narrator.
While Nick’s declaration of honesty is often incongruent with his account, he comes to be a valuable asset to the novel. As the storyteller, Nick “was within and without” (Fitzgerald 36). He is present, yet removed from the people he writes about. Nick spends a generous amount of time with these people, but is constantly overlooked and it seems that his opinion is considered irrelevant. Despite his subconscious judgments, Nick is given the perfect perspective to write from and provides the reader an opportunity to examine Nick’s metamorphosis as his relationship with Gatsby grows. His preconceptions exist, but are natural and reflective of his apparent audience, making Nick Carraway the worthiest narrator for examining the scandalous lives of West Egg’s elite.

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