Nick’s attitude towards Gatsby may seem to be ambiguous because of varying tones he uses in his narration. But when one analyzes the speaker’s implied tone through the use of specific and individual words, it is evident that Nick had a clear stance and view of Gatsby, both before and after his death. This paper will analyze words that Nick uses during his narration that express his attitude towards Jay Gatsby.
At first, Nick states, “I didn’t want to hear it and I avoided him when I got off the train.” (Page 181) This statement refers to a taxi driver who told numerous stories pertaining to Gatsby. This quotation implies that Nick is tired of hearing the same old stories about the great Gatsby. Many of which are false and most of which superficial in thought and have no basis. Nick wants to move on instead of brooding over the past and he wants to forget about Gatsby’s existence.
“I spent my Saturday nights in New York because those gleaming, dazzling parties of his were with me so vividly that I could still hear the music and the laughter, faint and incessant, from his garden, and the cars going up and down his drive.” (Page 181) The use of certain words in this quotation suggests a sarcastic tone regarding Gatsby. Those gleaming…parties of his were with me so vividly that I could still hear the music…faint and incessant. The use of the darkened words suggests a sarcastic tone because it categorizes Gatsby’s parties in a class of its own. They have a downbeat tone to them that makes the reader believe that Nick did not sympathize with Gatsby because he gave such extravagant parties.
A similar tone is developed when the narrator states that someone he saw at Gatsby’s front steps was probably “some final guest who had been away at the ends of the earth and didn’t know that the party was over.” (Page 181) This statement emphasizes the notoriety of the issue regarding the recent events that had occurred. Through this remark, he means to use guest in a sardonic manner, which mocks Gatsby’s party guest for not knowing that the party is over. The use of the word ‘some’ also creates a deep negative feeling that Nick has towards Gatsby because it implies that Gatsby’s partygoers, in general, are people of little consequence.
Nick’s reference to Gatsby’s mansion as a “huge incoherent failure of a house” (Page 181) further supports the statement that he had a negative attitude towards Gatsby. This is simply inferred from the usage of the words incoherent and failure. He emphasizes more on Gatsby’s failure than on the success that is clearly demonstrated by the immensity and luxuries of his home. A contrasting tone that he displays in this passage is one of sympathy. This is exhibited when he narrates the following: “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… And one fine morning—” (Page 182) The use of the words ‘us’ and ‘ours’ along with optimism, create an impression that Nick commiserates with Gatsby and can relate to him, but has an optimistic outlook for himself.
In conclusion, the predominant mood that Nick illustrates towards Jay Gatsby is that of sympathetic disapproval. He understands and condemns Gatsby’s lifestyle, but on the other hand, he seems to understand his problem and holds a more optimistic view of tomorrow. Thus, Nick’s distasteful attitudes towards Gatsby outweigh his supportive tone throughout the course of this passage, and although there is a hint of sympathy towards Jay, the connotation of the words used by Nick create simply pessimistic view of Gatsby.