Debating Nick – Reliability?

Is Nick a reliable narrator? Do we trust him?Do we trust his judgements and assessments? Do we think he’s a man of good character?

Decide what you think and be prepared to debate your views in class after your unit 3 mock.

Is Nick:

  • the moral consciousness of the novel
  • a man who learns form his experiences
  • the hero
  • reliable
  • a trustworthy and honest narrator?

Or is he:

  • unperceptive
  • lacking in insight
  • obtuse
  • self deceiving
  • unreliable?
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7 Responses to Debating Nick – Reliability?

  1. Criddle says:

    I think Nick exemplifies the class divide in the novel and there is an aspect of jealousy between him and gatsby. The first chapter makes him sound pompous which shows that there is a lack of empathy with certain people. It is interesting how he doesn’t question why Tom is having an affair and is seemingly quite ignorant of Jordan’s interest in him.

  2. Jodie Thompson says:

    We place our trust in Nick as our narrator since he guides us through the whole novel, however this doesn’t mean he is necessarily fully trustworthy. Although very involved in the situations, he seems detached also so he can give what could be unbiased opinions/judgments, hence being ‘the most honest man he knows’ or something like that.

    He isn’t the hero.
    He doesn’t lack in insight.
    He isn’t self deceiving.

    However all the rest of the options are possible. 🙂

    I don’t think he’s homosexual though as some people like to suggest…

  3. Dena Bahiraey says:

    Nick’s reliability can be questioned because he is a character with the novel also, so his views could be influenced by his own subjective views and experiences. He would not share the same power or reliability as a 3rd person narrator because they are all-knowing. Nick fills the gaps of important information from the accounts of other characters. An example would be when Daisy explains Gatsby and Daisy’s past relationship to Nick. He appears to be a man of good character (to me, anyway) because of his evident references to morality and social thinking in the opening pages of his book. Even though the themes of the novel are dominated by wealth and consumerism, there is an underlying sense of distrust and questioning that is sensed by the reader from Nick. There are times he seems to judge unfairly (an example of this would be when he was suspicious of Gatsby’s assertions about his personal life- which contained a degree of truth), but he openly expresses concern and regret about his past thoughts. Within the novel’s denouement, it’s obvious that Nick, the most moral and intelligent of all characters to begin with, experiences the most valuable and meaningful life lessons from his own and the tragic mistakes of others (such as Gatsby’s).

    Just to make it clear: I LOVE Nick!! 🙂

  4. Georgina Welsh says:

    Doesn’t he actually call himself ‘the most honest man’ he’s ever known, at one point? And when he finds out about Jordan’s lieing to win a match, he thinks it’s a real turn off… but, then, he also gets dragged into the ‘dreamworld’ of Gatsby. Without realising.

  5. Emily McEleny says:

    I trust Nick as a narrator, which I think is helped with the omniscient observer narrative. This gives an insight into all of the characters’ separate issues in a reliable way. I think that he is the moral conscience of the novel, especially in comparison to the misguided principles of the Buchanans and Gatsby and the corruption of the Jazz Age. He works really well as an “onlooker” device to the plotline.

  6. Alex Snell says:

    I like Nick as the narrator, but part of that is because of the wonderful way that Fitzgerald writes in the mind of him. I think he is reliable, and does learn from his experiences, as well as being honest. He says right at the beginning of the novel that his dad told him to not criticise anyone because they haven’t had the advantages that Nick has, and I think that this gives a realness (there is a better, more English Literaturey word that escapes my mind right now!) to Nick as a character. He does have an incredible interest in Gatsby, but I think that’s because of the fascination of a man that has everything from literally nothing. I don’t think he’s the hero in this novel though, I don’t think it actually has one. The Gatsby Gatsby is so reflective of the world back then, and is so close to the life that many Americans led, and there was no room for heros then. I agree with Jodie and don’t think Nick is in love with Gatsby though, I fear people are looking for something that isnt there when they argue this point!

  7. Sarah Hawkins says:

    Nick is a character to be wary of, his infatuation with Gatsby is obvious and increasingly concerning. He only seems to be interested in Gatbsy’s life when there is some sort of rama involved. I would definitely say that Nick is no hero, he has not helped Gatsby in anyway, the only one thing he says to Gatsby is that he is a ‘damn sight better than that bunch’. But apart from that, he had shown no moral support of him. He was drawn into the gossip of Gatbsy, unprepared to back him up. I do not believe that Nick should be accredited as a heroic character, but a mere observer.

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