Is Nick From The Great Gatsby A Trustworthy Narrator?

Fitzgerald presents the readers with an unreliable and inconsistent narrator in The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway, who starts the first chapter with his strict morals of being ‘inclined to reserve all judgements’ yet quickly contradicts himself with his own judgements, making him a target of ‘not a few veteran bores’. Nick is the main focus of the novel, with Gatsby only making up 4% of the story, and his narration reveals more about himself than the main character. Nick’s perception of himself is quickly challenged by his idea of being a ‘self isolating voyeur’, which alludes to his loneliness through his distorted view of the world, as he likes to see life through a ‘single window’. This voyeuristic aspect further emphasizes his 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 his voyeuristic tendencies, as he is a spectator rather than a participator. Despite Nick’s belief that he is a social person, his instinct to ‘avoid all eyes’ shows us as readers that he is a spectator, avoiding all attention and difficulty expressing emotion, yet wanting a sense of belonging due to his loneliness. This voyeuristic aspect is further reinforced when he refused to comment on the immorality of drinking during prohibition, yet when faced with Tom’s affair with Daisy, his instinct was to ‘immediately phone the police’, further highlighting the contradiction in Nick’s narrative and moral rigidity, as, as the novel progresses, we quickly realize 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 he never tries to justify his judgement of people, which shows him as an unreliable narrator.


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