The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Analysis: Narrator Point of View
Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?
First Person (Peripheral Narrator)
Nick Carraway is our first-person narrator, but he's not the center of the story—and that makes him a peripheral narrator, someone who's always on the outside looking in. He tells us at the beginning of the first chapter that "I'm inclined to reserve all judgements, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores" (1.3). Translate? People like to tell Nick their stories. And boy do we get stories: Gatsby's story, of course, but also Tom's story, Jordan's story, Daisy's story, and even the story of the Wilsons.
Ultimately, Nick's major character trait – reserving judgment – allows him to be almost an "invisible" narrator, similar to a traditional third-person omniscient point of view. Which leaves us with a question (or three): why choose a first-person narrator at all? Why not just a third-person and be done with it? And how "invisible" and "non-judgmental" is Nick, really?