Nick: a different breed of animal

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As I finished up the book, I couldn't help but notice that I hated nearly all of the characters in the book. Or at least, if I didn't have them, I certainly never sympathized with them. In fact, the only characters with whom I sympathize and find myself not enraged over their actions are Nick and Wilson. Now, Wilson being a slightly more minor character, I don't think this realization is quite as important. But something seems to set Nick apart from the other characters, and after some thought I think I've figured it out: Money.

Now, each of the characters if affected by money in a different way. In fact, some of them are affected by money when they don't even have any. Daisy shapes her entire life around money. She chooses not to wait for Gatsby and marry Tom because Tom is rich. In fact, she goes through most of her marriage convincing herself that the Money has made her happy.

Tom too is enveloped by his money. The combination of his wealth and his size make him arrogant to the point of foolishness. He sees himself as above everyone else. Gatsby too, finds himself wrapped into the web of wealth. Even a man for whom it was once all about the love and never about the money discovers that in Fitzgerald's world, it is always about the money. Women don't love him and people won't listen to him unless he is wealthy. Before he knows it, he is playing the same game that all the rest of the wealthy are.

Even Myrtle, who has no real money, is willing to destroy her marriage and drive herself to the point of insanity all in order to gain Tom's money. When it becomes clear to her that she will never truly have it, she ends her life. It is only Nick and Wilson who seem to be above this lure of wealth. For one reason or another, Nick does not pursue the overwhelming wealth which the other characters possess, and he does not let himself be consumed by the lure of money and power the way everyone else is.



Rosalind Blair said:

Money does play a huge role in the book and I see how it seemed to bring out the bad qualities in all the characters. I feel that it is possible that even Wilson was affected by money when he was constanly asking Tom about the car he was going to bring to him. Everyone seems obsessed with their social class. Nick does seem to stay above the obsession, but I wonder - if he continued to stay in a enviroment surrounded by those types of people, would he also turn money into something bigger than it is?

Joshua wilks said:

It is ironic that the story is set in the roaring 20s where people were careless with money right before the great depression.

Joshua, note that the book was written and published when the boom times were still happening. I think that's part of why the book remains so popular -- instead of celebrating the jazzy fun times when everyone was enjoying the boom, the book pointed out that Gatsby could buy everything but happiness.

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