Of the countless things about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby I had heard before reading it myself, one idea that did not surface until seminar discussion on July 11th is a theory that the narrator, Nick Carraway, might hold a romantic interest in Gatsby. However, after completing the novel, I do not find this thought so far fetched at all.
Close reading of chapter eight in particular is what made me suspect Mr. Carraway’s romantic interest in Gatsby. The way he discusses Gatsby’s past relationship with Daisy is presumptuous: “It excited him, too, that many men had already loved Daisy – it increased her value in his eyes,” (Fitzgerald 149). This does more than to suggest Nick’s unreliable nature as a narrator (speaking about Gatsby’s romantic feelings in an omniscient manner, drawing conclusions he cannot know to be truth) it shows that he has enough interest in Gatsby to romanticize his past, projecting assumptions onto him that could very well be just Nick’s opinion.
Gender binaries as defined by Wikipedia are “… the classification of sex and gender into two distinct, opposite and disconnected forms of masculine or feminine.” Binaries influence the way a character is perceived by the audience since they have been raised by a society that teaches these binaries as fact rather than the fiction that they truly are. It is only when we apply our bias expectations of a 1920s male that Nick’s interest in Gatsby is perhaps overlooked. If we disregard gender binaries and consider Nick’s statements from a female voice – might we not then consider his interest obvious?
When a person is in loving adoration of another, regardless of gender, there are certain behaviors that cannot help but to surface. Nervousness is one of these, much like how Nick seems to be whenever he is invited to spend a day with Gatsby – he dressed in his symbolically pure “white flannels,” (Fitzgerald 42) to attend Gatsby’s parties. At first glance this may be dismissed as Nick simply wanting to make a good first impression, but it continued past their first night together. He continued to worry about what Gatsby thought of him in a similar fashion to how a person might fret over what the one they admire thinks of them throughout their entire brief relationship.
Mr. Carraway’s most notable behavior that made it seem as though he was secretly doting on Gatsby himself was his general obsession with him: it was as though he had Gatsby placed up on some pedestal. This obsession is undeniable, though it is not always argued as being a romantic affair. Gatsby’s life seems almost to have become fantasy to Nick, who recalls and records this whole story in a way that seems factual while in actuality, is just his perception and recollection of the events. Not very often is a man inspired to write a story about his neighbor, yet here this account reads an entire documentation of Jay Gatsby’s life as Carraway saw fit to record it after his unmerited murder.
It could be that Nick was simply touched by the heartache in the great Gatsby’s life, therefore motivating this narrative; but setting aside gender binary, it seems more likely that Carraway had a crush with no way to properly express himself and no one he could speak to honestly living in an age when binaries were still undisputed “fact.”
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. England: Penguin Books, 2012. Print.