Nick Carraway in the Great Gatsby: Character Analysis

Instructor: Natarielle Powell

I am a native Georgian with over 10 years experience in writing, publishing, and mentoring. Before becoming a English instructor and content creator, I earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Composition from Spelman College and later a master’s degree in Education with emphasis in Curriculum and Instruction from The University of Phoenix.

Nick Carraway, the narrator of the classic novel, ''The Great Gatsby'', plays several roles that connect all of the other characters to the title character, Jay Gatsby. Read on to find out more.

Plot Overview

Written and published in 1925 by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby has become a literary classic enjoyed by readers of all ages. The story is narrated by Nick Carraway, and it takes place in two different parts of New York called East Egg and West Egg. One part of town is quiet and serene while the other boasts loud parties, loose women, gambling, and other raucous behavior.


Who is Nick Carraway?

Nick Carraway is a college graduate from the Midwest who has moved to New York to work in the bond business. He is a bit impressionable and naive, but his curious and observing nature helps him carefully weigh different situations. One of those situations has to do with his new neighbor, Jay Gatsby, and whether Nick should believe who Gatsby says he is or who others say he is.

The novel begins with Nick thinking back on advice that his father gave him as a boy. His father encouraged him to be careful about criticizing others and reminded him that he has had some advantages that others have not had. It may be that this advantage has something to do with social class and wealth, but this is never clearly addressed. However, the advice that Nick has pondered for years makes him study people, and we learn of the other characters and their behavior through his thoughtful observations. Nick interacts with each of the characters in a different way. He is the connector, the cousin, the confidant, and the friend.

The Connector

Nick Carraway is the character that connects all of the other characters together. There are four main characters in this novel: Nick Carraway, Tom Buchanan, Daisy Buchanan, and Jay Gatsby. Nick and Tom knew each other in college, and Tom marries Daisy, who is Nick's cousin, twice removed. Jay Gatsby met and fell in love with Daisy when he was in the army, and he is the next-door neighbor to Nick.

These four characters are also connected by a lie about who really killed Myrtle Wilson (a woman that Tom Buchannan is having an affair with). Nick becomes involved when he begins to search for the truth about the incident.

The Cousin

Nick is the second cousin twice removed of Daisy Buchanan. Twice removed means that there are two generations between them. However, Daisy and Nick do not seem to be very far apart in age.

The Confidant

Many of the main characters confide in Nick - most notably Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby. Tom is married to Daisy, and Gatsby is having an affair with Daisy. Both men are at odds with each other, and they find comfort and perhaps justification of their behavior in Nick's confidence.

Tom Buchanan introduces Nick to his mistress, Myrtle Wilson, a sassy vixen who is the total opposite of Daisy. He even takes Nick to his private apartment in the city where he throws wild parties. We see the events of the party through Nick's eyes, and although he says his father taught him not to be critical, we do get the feeling that the behavior of Tom and the party participants (Myrtle, her sister and her husband, and another couple) is a bit much for the conservative Nick Carraway.

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