The novel the Great Gatsby isn’t your classical coming of age novel at least for the most part. This is because Nick Caraway is the only character who actually ends up changing by the end of the novel. Furthermore coming of age novels refer to a character(s) that pass the rite of passage in order to enter manhood or womanhood. Therefore this novel is about the growth of maturity.
The story begins with Nick attending dinner at the Buchannan house. Nick was at first very impressed and fascinated with the beauty, glamour, and wealth of Daisy and Tom. This can be seen in the quote “Their house was even more elaborate than I expected” (Fitzgerald, pg.6). This point of view is oblivious and is unaware of the saying “it’s not what’s on the outside but what’s on the inside. However this point of view drastically changed by the end of the novel.
By the end of the novel Nick can no longer even bare to stand the sight of Tom or Daisy, let alone shake their hands. This is best seen with the quote “What’s the matter, Nick? Do you object to shaking hands with me? Yes. You know what I think of you.” This is because Tom told Mr. Wilson to go and kill Gatsby because he had been the person driving the car. Furthermore he can’t stand Daisy because even though she loved Gatsby she retreated behind Tom and let Gatsby take the hit for her. This resulted in Gatsby’s death and later his funeral to which neither Daisy nor Tom attended.
The strongest representation of Nick’s growing maturity is the fact that he realises that Tom and Daisy are both weak and gutless people. This understanding was only obtained when Nick looked for what was on the “inside”. The quote “They are careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…” is really powerful and Fitzgerald is warning others about people who are like this.
The novel The Great Gatsby may not be a coming of age novel but it is a pretty darn good book about growing in maturity, following your dreams, and fighting for love. Unfortunately Nick is the only character who actually realised this and learned from it.