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Thread: Nick Carraway - honest?

  1. #1

    Post Nick Carraway - honest?

    I'm new around here, i found the site while browsing for a solution to this question, which was I raised with my Lit teacher, who promptly agreed with me. I looked for more information about it, but couldn't find anything else to support the argument, so i thought I'd put this to all of you and get some opinions.

    Was Nick Carraway a liar? Did he alter the story to suit himself and make himself out to be an innocent bystander in all the goings-on?
    The quote which made me wonder:
    "Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known." - 59

    Why would Nick go out of his way to point out his honesty if he was truly an honest man?
    Or is this just a random sentence thrown in?

  2. #2

    Ok, I'm no English major but I'll take a shot

    at supporting your thesis. I think one theme that runs through the book is how Nick often doesn't state what he knows, doesn't tell people's secrets, which then leaves others with false impressions, which can have serious consequences. In a nutshell: by not saying anything when he could have, he's lieing.

    Two simple examples: when he doesn't reveal that he knows about Tom's affair, when he doesn't reveal that he knows Daisy was driving the car, or even at the scene of the crime when he doesn't tell the police everything he knows (think about it, he could have saved Gatsby's life by telling the police so they got to Gatsby before the crazy husband did).

    A good quote to support your thesis comes at the end of the book, when he breaks up with Daisy and she says he is dishonest, and that makes Nick angry. In the part where she says she "met another bad driver" what's she's saying is "you are as dishonest as I am, and we are a wreck together". So that quote would also support your theory.

  3. #3

    Nick Carraway

    Well, Nick says he is honest but isn't always... He left the midwest to escape a romantic entanglement, and it appears that he was not honest with the woman who wanted to marry him. He remains silent when Tom breaks Myrtle's nose. He does not tell his cousin Daisy about Tom's escapades. He says he is the nonjudgemental observer in the early pages. But after his summer in New York, he realizes that morals and values have to exist, even if they are founded upon a "marsh." He wants to world to be "in uniform. . "at a sort of moral attention." He breaks up with Jordan Baker because he knows he does not love her. He realizes that his tolerance of others has reached a limit; he must now forge a new path. However, the novel ends unclearly (as it should, for it is modern); Nick has been a good friend to Gatsby, in his life and in his death. After Gatsby's death, he wants to return to the midwest to begin anew.
    But... the boat beats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past...

  4. #4
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    Jul 2006
    I think he is basically honest at least in his assessment of the other characters. He omits information he learns from other characters and does not tell all he knows. He doesn't actually lie, but does lie through omission. He has many opportunities to correct this but does not and he goes out of his way to point out to the reader all of his good qualities. I can see why you might question his honesty.

  5. #5


    hi there,
    i'am new here and this is my first participaton in such types of foroums. regarding your question about Nick's honesty, i think that he tries as much as claimed to be. yet he in some cases, maybe uncounciously, appear very judgmental. to give you an example, we readers know that tom is a snobish, uncaring person even before we met him. we hated him before we got to know his actions and treatment to his wife. we didnt have a chance to justify his actions and provide some excuses for him simply because owr honest narrator have put that into our mouths.

  6. #6
    We also remember Nick reminds us he had an affair with a 'girl' in New York. This must place some doubt in the readers mind about Nick's morality and integrity.

  7. #7
    I'd say that he is dishonest. There's obviously a bit more going on with Nick than he lets on. Though Tom is not nice, at least he's honest about who he is.

  8. #8
    Pièce de Résistance Scheherazade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kelby_lake View Post
    I'd say that he is dishonest. There's obviously a bit more going on with Nick than he lets on. Though Tom is not nice, at least he's honest about who he is.
    Would you still have felt this way had Tom been the narrator?

    I think Nick, being a first person narrator, is bound to come across as unreliable.
    No damn cat and no damn cradle.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Scheherazade View Post
    Would you still have felt this way had Tom been the narrator?
    Yes. There's something shifty about Nick.

  10. #10

    Great Gatsby- Nick's honesty

    Scott Fitzgerald portrayed Nick in an honest way, which does not mean that Nick himself is an honest person, he just addresses his reader in a way that the average person you met on the street might answer you.

    He is honest to the point, that he is our story teller, and for him to be lying the whole time would make it too difficult to follow.
    He doesn't lie exactly, he just tells the reader what he wants to. Meaning he may miss something out, or express an opinion that was not true at the time the event took place (Remembering that 'The Great Gatsby' is written mostly in the past tense).

  11. #11
    Registered User Desolation's Avatar
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    Mar 2009
    Portland, OR
    Is honesty really so simple?

    If you want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, then you'll never encounter an honest man. A human being does not have that capability. The human mind and memory is too small and fleeting to possibly be really truly honest. I think, though, that Nick was as honest as he could have been.

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