Honest People...Hard for Gatsby to Find

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"I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known."

Fitzgerald's narrator, Nick Carraway closes chapter three with this thought.  Honesty is the best policy, but it would appear as though very few people of this time period possess it.  Life is complicated enough as it is for poor Nick, but those around him don't help, at all.

Within chapter one, it is evident that those around Nick are less than virtuous.  Tom Buchanan has his mistress, Jordan Baker does nothing to intervene for the betterment of Daisy's life with her cheating husband, and Jay Gatsby is surrounded by a cloud of mystery that hides any solid facts from surfacing.

Chapter two takes this dishonesty further with the introduction of Myrtle Wilson, Tom's mistress.  She cheats on her less than keen husband without remorse.  During the segment within the apartment, Tom and Myrtle are not honest with their guests or themselves.  Both cheating spouses attempt to justify their actions with a skewed reality.  There is an unwillingness to accept responsibilty and in that action, itself, they are lying to themselves. 

Nick's honesty goes hand and hand with his logic.  He knows what is happening around him, but he takes his time at analyzing the situations and formulating an opinion, even though his instincts appear to formulate one for him on an impulse.  Chapters three and four continue with the dishonesty that the many characters display towards one another.  Dishonesty permeates throughout the mysterious and skeptical personal history of Gatsby (or does it?), party-goers' reasons for visiting Gatsby, and between the spouse cheaters.

To be quite honest, myself, I can see how Nick finds himself to be extremely honest: he knows how to have an opinion, but keep it to himself.  He also understands the surrounding situations, and therefore he is honest with himself and does not try and make excuses for himself. 

1 Comments

Matt Henderson said:

Maybe it's just the cynic in me, but whenever I read something where a character makes a point of saying that he's an honest person, I'm inclined to not believe him. While I agree that he certainly knows not to assert himself in situations where he or other people could get hurt, I don't know if I'd call this honest so much as I'd call it shrewd. If you think about it, going to a party with your cousin's husband and the woman your cousin's husband is having an affair with isn't something you'd normally associate with being honest. It's true that Tom practically forces him to go, but Nick never really does stand up for Daisy at any point during their whole time together. Tom seems like he'd become violent if Nick started criticizing him or threatened to tell Daisy, so it's certainly wise to not provoke him. Early in the book he mentions how people tend to open their hearts to him whether he invites them to or not, and he never really uses anybody's secrets against them; he never really does anything to help them, either. I also notice how he hasn't really revealed anything extremely unflattering or unattractive about himself. So he's good at withholding information. I guess if you keep your mouth shut it's pretty much impossible to lie, but it doesn't necessarily make you that wonderful of a person either...

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