The Great Gatsby/The Great Gatsby- The Question of Nick Carraway's Integrity term paper 6861

The Great Gatsby term papers
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Essay on "The Great Gatsby" : the Question of Nick Carraway's Integrity

In pursuing relationships, we come to know people only step by step.

Unfortunately, as our knowledge of others' deepens, we often move from enchantment to

disenchantment. Initially we overlook flaws or wish them away; only later do we realize

peril of this course. In the novel "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the journey

from delight to disappointment may be seen in the narrator, Nick Carraway. Moving from

initial interest to romantic allure to moral repugnance, Nick's relationship with Jordan

Baker traces a painfully familiar, all-to-human arc.

Nick's initial interest in Jordan is mainly for her looks and charm. Upon first sight

of her at the Buchanan's mansion, he is at once drawn to her appearance. He Notes her

body "extended full length" on the divan, her fluttering lips, and her quaintly tipped chin.

He observes the lamp light that "glinted along the paper as she turned a page with a

flutter of slender muscles in her arms." He is willing to overlook her gossipy chatter

about Tom's extra-marital affair, and is instead beguiled by her dry witticisms and her

apparent simple sunniness: "Time for this good girl to go to bed," she says. When Daisy

begins her matchmaking of Nick and Jordan, we sense that she is only leading where

Nick's interest is already taking him.

It is Jordan, then, who makes Nick feel comfortable at Gatsby's party, as we sense

what Nick senses: they're becoming a romantic couple. As they drive home a summer

house-party, Nick notes her dishonesty but forgives it, attributing it to her understandable

need to get by in a man's world. She praises his lack of carelessness, tells him directly "I

like you"--and he is smitten, After Jordan tells him the tale of Gatsby and Daisy's past,

Nick feels a "heady excitement" because she has taken him into her confidence. Attracted

by her "universal skepticism" and under the influence of his own loneliness, Nick--

overlooking this time her "wan, scornful mouth"--seals their romance by planted a kiss on

Jordan's lips.

But the attraction can't last and is, by summer's end, replaced by repugnance. The

smallest of details, at first, heralds this falling-apart: "Jordan's fingers, powdered with

white over their tan, rested for a moment in mine." Here Fitzgerald has dropped a subtle

hint that their liaison is to be the matter of only a moment, and that Jordan's "integrity"

may be a matter of mere cosmetics. But it is Jordan's failure to feel the gravity of the real

falling-apart--among Tom, Daisy, and Gatsby--that most rankles Nick, and he reacts with

disgust when she invites him in for a nightcap amid all the emotional wreckage, then

complains the next day of his refusal. But Jordan's worst action, in Nick's eyes, is her

failure to stay on at Daisy and Tom's when Daisy needs her. The betrayal is far worse

than moving a golf ball, because it is deeply personal.

In the end, with a rueful acceptance of what seemed "meant to be" but was not,

Nick sees that, while Jordan may excite his interest and passion, the excitement pales in

the light of her lack of "the fundamental decencies." Though it has been Nick's first

impulse to reserve judgments about her, in the end he cannot: the limit of his tolerance

defines him. In letting go of Jordan because of her lack of integrity, Nick has held fast to

his.

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