The Great Gatsby

Nick Carraway Character Analysis

A young man from Minnesota who has come to New York after graduating Yale and fighting in World War I, Nick is the neighbor of Jay Gatsby and the cousin of Daisy Buchanan. The narrator of The Great Gatsby, Nick describes himself as "one of the few honest people that [he has] ever known." Nick views himself as a man of "infinite hope" who can see the best side of everyone he encountered. Nick sees past the veneer of Gatsby's wealth and is the only character in the novel who truly cares about Gatsby. In watching Gatsby's story unfold, Nick becomes a critic of the Roaring Twenties excess and carelessness that carries on all around him.

Nick Carraway Quotes in The Great Gatsby

The The Great Gatsby quotes below are all either spoken by Nick Carraway or refer to Nick Carraway. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Scribner edition of The Great Gatsby published in 2004.
Chapter 1 Quotes
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.
"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker)
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

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He stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward – and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker), Jay Gatsby
Related Symbols: The Green Light and the Color Green
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 2 Quotes
This is a Valley of Ashes—a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air. Occasionally a line of gray cars crawls along an invisible track, gives out a ghastly creak, and comes to rest, and immediately the ash-gray men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an impenetrable cloud, which screens their obscure operations from your sight.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Valley of Ashes
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 3 Quotes
He smiled understandingly—much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced—or seemed to face—the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker), Jay Gatsby
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes
The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God—a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that—and he must be about His Father's business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen year old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker), Jay Gatsby
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:

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"I wouldn't ask too much of her," I ventured. "You can't repeat the past."
"Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously. "Why of course you can!"
He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.
Related Characters: Jay Gatsby (speaker), Nick Carraway (speaker), Daisy Buchanan
Related Symbols: Gatsby's Mansion
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes
"Her voice is full of money," he said suddenly.
That was it. I'd never understood before. It was full of money—that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals' song of it.
Related Characters: Jay Gatsby (speaker), Nick Carraway (speaker), Daisy Buchanan
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8 Quotes
"They're a rotten crowd," I shouted across the lawn. "You're worth the whole damn bunch put together."
I've always been glad I said that. It was the only compliment I ever gave him, because I disapproved of him from beginning to end. First he nodded politely, and then his face broke into that radiant and understanding smile, as if we'd been in ecstatic cahoots on that fact all the time.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker), Jay Gatsby
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 9 Quotes
They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker), Daisy Buchanan, Tom Buchanan
Page Number: 179
Explanation and Analysis:

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That's my Middle West . . . the street lamps and sleigh bells in the frosty dark. . . . I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all—Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker), Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan, Tom Buchanan, Jordan Baker
Related Symbols: East and West
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:

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And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors' eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world.... And as I sat there, brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out Daisy's light at the end of his dock. He had come such a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close he could hardly fail to grasp it. But what he did not know was that it was already behind him, somewhere in the vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker), Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan
Related Symbols: The Green Light and the Color Green
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:

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Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And then one fine morning—So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
Related Characters: Nick Carraway (speaker), Jay Gatsby
Related Symbols: The Green Light and the Color Green
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:

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Nick Carraway Character Timeline in The Great Gatsby

The timeline below shows where the character Nick Carraway appears in The Great Gatsby. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
Nick Carraway, the novel's narrator and protagonist, begins The Great Gatsby by recounting a bit of... (full context)
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
For instance, Nick says that though he scorns everything Gatsby stood for, he withholds judgment entirely regarding him.... (full context)
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
In the summer of 1922, Nick, a Yale graduate, moves from his hometown in Minnesota, where his family has lived for... (full context)
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Nick intends to become a bond salesman, a line of work he says that almost everyone... (full context)
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
Nick rents a house in West Egg, a Long Island suburb located directly across a bay... (full context)
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
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...characterized by garish displays of wealth that the old money families find distasteful. For instance, Nick's small house sits next to an "eyesore" of a mansion owned by Gatsby, a man... (full context)
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
The main story begins when Nick, who, though he lives in West Egg has East Egg connections, drives over to East... (full context)
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
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At dinner Nick meets Jordan Baker, a young professional golfer, who is beautiful but also seems constantly bored... (full context)
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
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...has a phone call and leaves the room. Daisy follows quickly behind, and Jordan tells Nick that the call is from Tom's mistress. The rest of dinner is awkward. As Nick... (full context)
The American Dream Theme Icon
Upon returning from dinner, Nick sees Jay Gatsby standing on his lawn and gazing out across Long Island sound. Nick... (full context)
Chapter 2
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
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Nick describes a "waste land" between West Egg and New York City where the ashes from... (full context)
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One day, as Tom and Nick ride a train from Long Island into the city, Tom gets off at a stop... (full context)
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
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Tom, Myrtle, and Nick go to the apartment Tom keeps in New York City to conduct his affair. Myrtle's... (full context)
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The American Dream Theme Icon
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The topic of conversation eventually turns to Nick's neighbor Gatsby. Catherine says she's afraid of Gatsby because she's heard that he's a relative... (full context)
Chapter 3
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
Every Saturday night, Gatsby throws incredibly luxurious parties at his mansion. Nick eventually receives an invitation. At the party, he feels out of place, and notes that... (full context)
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Nick runs into Jordan Baker at the party. While spending time with her, he observes all... (full context)
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The American Dream Theme Icon
Nick and Jordan decide to find their mysterious host, and wander into Gatsby's library. There they... (full context)
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Later, as Nick and Jordan sit outside watching the party, Nick strikes up a conversation with the man... (full context)
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Gatsby also interests Nick because he remains apart from the party, as if his pleasure derives from observing the... (full context)
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...to come meet with Gatsby. She returns a while later from this meeting and tells Nick that she has just heard a story that is "the most amazing thing." (full context)
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
Past and Future Theme Icon
...goodbye to Gatsby (who has to run off to receive a phone call from Philadelphia), Nick leaves the party. As he walks home, he sees a crowd gathered around an automobile... (full context)
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Nick then describes his everyday life that summer to the reader: he wants it clear he... (full context)
Chapter 4
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
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Nick observes some drunken women on Gatsby's lawn discussing Gatsby's mysterious identity, which includes all the... (full context)
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Nick then describes accompanying Gatsby on a trip into the city for lunch. They ride to... (full context)
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For lunch they meet a business partner of Gatsby's named Meyer Wolfsheim. Wolfsheim tells Nick that Gatsby is a man of "fine breeding" who would "never so much as look... (full context)
The Roaring Twenties Theme Icon
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On the way out of the restaurant, Nick sees Tom Buchanan and introduces him to Gatsby. Gatsby appears embarrassed and leaves the scene... (full context)
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After lunch, Nick meets Jordan at the Plaza Hotel. She tells him the "amazing thing" that Gatsby had... (full context)
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Class (Old Money, New Money, No Money) Theme Icon
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...He had hoped that the magnificent house would impress her and win back her love. Nick realizes that the green light he saw Gatsby gazing at sits at the end of... (full context)
Chapter 5
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After returning from the city, Nick encounters Gatsby late at night on his front lawn. Gatsby seems nervous, and asks if... (full context)
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...on the day of the meeting. Though it's raining he sends a man to cut Nick's grass, and also makes sure Nick's house is full of flowers. Gatsby disappears just as... (full context)
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...and Daisy treat each other formally at first, and Gatsby's nerves threaten to overwhelm him. Nick leaves them alone for half an hour. When he returns they are blissfully happy. Gatsby... (full context)
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Nick, meanwhile, privately wonders how Daisy can possibly fulfill Gatsby's idealized vision of her. Nick reflects... (full context)
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...holds Daisy's hand and she whispers something to him that seems to stir his emotions. Nick, sensing that they no longer realize he's there, leaves them, walking out alone into the... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Nick notes that newspaper reporters soon started to appear at Gatsby's home to try to interview... (full context)
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For a few weeks, Nick doesn't see Gatsby. Then, one afternoon, Gatsby turns up at his house. A few moments... (full context)
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...next Saturday night, Tom and Daisy come to a party at Gatsby's. The party strikes Nick as particularly unpleasant. Tom is disdainful of the party, and though Daisy and Gatsby dance... (full context)
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...that Daisy neither enjoyed the party nor understands the depth of his feelings for her. Nick reminds him that the past is impossible to repeat, but Gatsby disagrees. He says he... (full context)
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Nick recalls a memory that Gatsby once shared with him about the first time Gatsby kissed... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Gatsby's house becomes much quieter, and his party's come to an end. Nick visits, and learns that Gatsby ended the parties because he no longer needed them to... (full context)
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On the hottest day of the summer, Daisy invites Nick and Gatsby to lunch with her, Tom, and Jordan. At one point, while Tom is... (full context)
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Before they leave for the city, Nick and Gatsby have a moment alone, in which they agree that Daisy is indiscreet. Gatsby... (full context)
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...Gatsby's big yellow car. Gatsby and Daisy travel alone in Tom's coupe, while Tom drives Nick and Jordan. It's clear Tom now knows about the affair between Gatsby and Daisy. Gatsby's... (full context)
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...and became physically ill upon discovering that his wife has been living a double life. Nick realizes that Wilson has figured out his wife is having an affair but doesn't know... (full context)
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Nick notices the haunting eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg looming in the distance, then spots... (full context)
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Nick remembers at that moment that the day is his thirtieth birthday. He says that a... (full context)
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...a Greek man who runs the coffee shop next to George Wilson's garage, and who, Nick, says, was the chief witness in the police investigation: that afternoon, Michaelis saw Wilson sick... (full context)
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The point of view shifts back to Nick: Tom, Nick, and Jordan arrive at the scene in their car. Both Tom and Wilson... (full context)
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Tom, Jordan, and Nick drive to the Buchanan's house. Tom calls a taxi for Nick. As Nick waits for... (full context)
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Nick goes and checks on Daisy through the window, and sees Tom and Daisy sitting on... (full context)
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Nick tells Gatsby everything is quiet, but Gatsby still refuses to leave. Nick leaves him "watching... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Nick visits Gatsby for breakfast the next morning. Gatsby tells Nick that Daisy never came outside... (full context)
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Gatsby and Nick finish breakfast. As they walk together, the gardener tells Gatsby he's going to drain the... (full context)
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At work that day, Nick falls asleep. The phone wakes him: it's Jordan. Their conversation quickly turns unpleasant and one... (full context)
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Next, Nick relates what happened at Wilson's garage after Myrtle's death. Wilson spent all night talking to... (full context)
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...he was to be alerted if any phone call came. None came. Later that afternoon, Nick and some of Wolfsheim's men working at Gatsby's house discover Gatsby, shot dead in his... (full context)
Chapter 9
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It's now two years later and Nick is recounting his memories of the days shortly after Gatsby's death. Wild rumors about Gatsby's... (full context)
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Nick finds himself the primary contact for all matters relating to Gatsby because nobody else wanted... (full context)
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...devastated by his son's death, who he believed was destined for great things. He asks Nick what his relationship was to Gatsby. Nick says they were close friends. (full context)
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That night, Klipspringer calls. Nick tells him about the funeral. But Klipspringer says he can't attend because he has to... (full context)
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...place the next day. In an effort to assemble more people to attend the service, Nick goes to New York to try to retrieve Wolfsheim in person. At his sketchy office,... (full context)
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Nick returns to Gatsby's house for the funeral. Only, Nick, Henry Gatz, and, to Nick's surprise,... (full context)
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Nick now describes The Great Gatsby as a story of the West since many of the... (full context)
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Nick goes to Jordan Baker's house to set things straight with her. She tells him she... (full context)
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Later that October, Nick runs into Tom Buchanan on Fifth Avenue in New York. He refuses to shake Tom's... (full context)
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On his last night in West Egg before moving back home to Minnesota, Nick walks down to Gatsby's beach and looks out over Long Island sound. He wonders how... (full context)
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Nick describes Gatsby as a believer in the future, a man of promise and faith. He... (full context)