In The Great Gatsby Is Nick A Reliable Narrator?

Updated 30 September, 2023
Nick Carraway is an unreliable narrator in The Great Gatsby. He contradicts himself and reveals minimal information about the characters throughout the novel, providing essential contradictions which are exposed in a variety of ways through the course of the accounts.
Detailed answer:

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald gives the readers a deeply unreliable and incoherent narrator, Nick Carraway, who opens the first chapter with his taught morals of being ‘inclined to reserve all judgements’ yet quickly contradicts himself with his reserved judgement making him the victim of ‘not a few veteran bores’. It is clear to see that Nick dominates the novel, with Gatsby making up only 4% of ‘The Great Gatsby’ and Nick narrating his story, reveals a lot more about himself than the central character. Nick’s perception of himself are quickly counteracted by this idea of him being a ‘self isolating voyeur’ alluding his solitude through his distorted view of the world, depicting his incoherent narrative as he likes to see life through a ‘single window’
This idea of Nick being a voyeur epitomises this flawed narrative as he is only able to contemplate part of the situation. Nick’s idea of seeing life through a ‘single window’ further illustrates this idea of him being a voyeur, a spectator rather than participator. Despite Nick being certain that he is a communal person, his instinct ‘to avoid all eyes’ quickly shows us as the reader that he is a spectator, avoiding all attention and difficulty showing emotion,yet wanting a feeling of belonging due to his loneliness. This voyeur aspect is further reinforced when he refused to comment on the immorality of drinking during prohibition, yet when faced with Tom’s affair from Daisy, his instinct was to ‘immediately phone the police’ thus further highlighting the contradiction in Nick’s narrative and moral rigidity, as, as the novel goes on we quickly realise that this morality is ironic as he too was having an affair.
Although Nick is a self isolating voyeur who struggles with emotion, it is evident that Nick never tries to justify his judgement of people, which shows him as an unreliable narrator.

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