The narrator’s influence plays a fundamental role in a novel that every reader takes into account when getting involved in the story . In Francis S. Fitzgerald’s literary work ‘’The Great Gasby ‘’ the function of Carraway’s narrative voice brought up several controversies among readers and critics for it deals with 3 different attitudes from the part of the narrator through whom ‘’Fitzgerald is able to achieve the aesthetic distance ‘’. (76 Donaldson) The purpose of the essay is to try to pin down those attitudes in view of Carraway’s eliability , awareness and detachment in the novel.
In ‘’The Great Gatsby ‘’ Carraway presents the main character as an unique individual who has an ‘’extraordinary gift for hope , a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which is not likely i shall ever find again ‘’(2). His fascination and aknowledgement of Gatsby’s idealism promps the reader to reflect on the promise and the hope the future holds for such an individual and for the tragism of his existence.
Carraway becomes reliable as a visionary for he is able to rise above the particular events epicted in the story , revealing a universal and tragic meaning in Gastby’s fate ; that of America itself for the hero personifies th seeker of ‘’ his personal Grail ‘’ in the same way Americans pursue their ideals in their quest for national identity. But as the story unfolds the attitude of the narrator becomes more and more ambivalent ‘’ I was within and without simultaneausly enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life’’ . Carraway sees both the sordidness and superficiality of the New York rich class and its thrill and excitement.
In this respect he becomes a mediator between the wealthy , rootless society within which the Buchanans assert themselves and the world of Gastby’s romantic imagination and illusion that transcends the novel . Fitzgerald manages to create 2 essential polarities that go to make up the human mind (103 , Mizener). From an allegorical point of view Nick symbolizes ‘’reason , experience , waking, reality and history while Gastby is imagination , innocence, sleeping , dream and eternity. ’’ (103)
The former’s consciousness includes the latter’s developpment in the novel for ‘’not only oes he mediate between the world of Gastby and the Buchanans but also between the text and Fitzgerald’s use of him as a narrator. ‘’(98, Mizener) Altough Nick Carraway seems to understand the hero’s fate because he was taught by his father not to judge the people around him as not all of them partook of ‘’the advantages he had’’ the reader perceives a sense of unrealibility and detachment from his part. Nick’s perspective on Gatsby changes all along while he gets more involved in his life and that of the other characters.
Nick listens to confessions since’’ he is a little afraid of missing something ‘’(1) but ‘’he judges and condemns practically everything and everyone he meets in the course of the novel. ’’(132,Donaldson) such as Tom Buchanan’s looks and behaviour , Jordan’s shallowness , Daisy and Gastby’s inconsistencies of character , adding an ironic tone to his observations . Another situation relevant to Nick being unreliable is given by the fact that he doesn’t try to pay justice to Gatsby , telling Tom the truth about Myrtle’s accident.
He keeps himself at a certain distance creating the impression that sometimes he knows more than what is really happening and other times exhibiting less than what is actually required. Concerning this aspect the ending becomes even more paradoxical when Carraway decides to retreat home while making a nostalgic connection between his childhood and the West.
His departure ‘’parallels Gastby’s desire to buy back the past as well as reaffirm the last words of the novel – that American destiny to ‘’beat on boats against the current borne back easeleslly into the past. (182 ) ‘’(106, Lehan) Taking into consideration the challenging aspects of the narrator’s voice the reader is stimulated to determine Nick’s role in the novel and notice the complexity of Fitzgerald’s character while maintaining a certain degree of partiality . In coming to this conclusion I incline to say that however credible Gatsby’s story may be , the reader is free to grasp a larger significance that is implied in the novel which accounts for the growth and decline of the 20th century American nation.