An attempted analysis of Nickʼs opening monologue
" Originally attempting to write on the subject of Fitzgeraldʼs establishment of a value hierarchy, it became evident that Nickʼs introduction was of far greater complexity and reach. Consequentially, and in the aspiration of personal improvement (the same aspiration I initially intended to commend as Fitzgerald did), I have deemed that Nickʼs monologue is worthy of stealing the stage and I will attempt to understand it.
" While my literary analysis skills are still in their infancy - more accurately, embryonic infancy - I hope to supplement this dearth aptitude with feigned confidence (and apparently unprecedented candor and grandiloquence).
" Nick begins with his paternally inherited inclination “to reserve all
judgement.” (Fitzgerald, 1.) I believe that Fitzgerald intended this statement to compensate for the absence of an omniscient narrator by neutralizing Nickʼs subjectivity. Nick continues with: “The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality [the absence of judgement?] when it appears in a normal
person” (Fitzgerald, 1) This is because the abnormal mind does prevail under scrutiny. “and so it came about that in college I was unjustly accused of being a
politician.” (Fitzgerald, 1) I believe that this is because whether it be the absence of judgment or suppression thereof, their outcomes are identical: increased affability. This affability is a common characteristic of politicians. It may also be his increased perspicacity, as Nick claims that it was “because I was privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men.” So, alternatively or coincidentally, Nickʼs lack of overt judgment (that which “also made [Nick] the victim of not a few veteran bores”), led to an increased exposure and thus understanding of the minds less known, another characteristic of a politician.
" Nick continues with a confounding sentence: “Most of the confidences were unsought — frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon; for the intimate revelations of young men, or at least the terms in which they express them, are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions.” I believe that Nickʼs thought jumps here. He claims that he was not in search of otherʼs appreciation of his perspicacity, this is then interrupted with the contemplation of a revelation that I do not believe is defined in the above text. Perhaps it is this extrinsic appreciation of his nature that evokes the trepidation, in which case the thoughts are not so disconnected. Irrespective of the statementʼs pertinence, its resonance is strong. To say that even the most intimate of revelations are recycled and tainted with neglected factors is a hefty claim. While I agree with the validity of this statement, I donʼt believe that the unoriginality of a revelation detracts from its potency or importance. A similar path in life is taken by all the individuals whom live it, this is going to result in repetition. The existence of “obvious suppressions” should be dwarfed by the newfound lucidity which is inherent in a revelation. While the revelation is marred by their existence, the individualʼs antecedent state was certainly more marred as it did not include this newfound lucidity.
" Nick continues with what I believe is his aforementioned revelation: “Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.” A cursory review of Nickʼs revelation would allow the reader to accept it without hesitation. However, I donʼt believe any step in analysis should be cursory. So, what this ʻhopeʼ is for, I am not certain. If we replace ʻhopeʼ with ʻtrust,ʼ which I believe we may do without altering Nickʼs meaning, is it a matter of the trust of the reasonability of people? Trust in their rationality? Trust in their judgement? Trust in their character? All seem viable answers, especially in the bookʼs context.
" Nick continues with: “I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parceled out unequally at birth.” This ties in directly to his fatherʼs earlier advice that “whenever you [Nick] feel like criticizing any one...just remember that all the people in this world havenʼt had the advantages that youʼve had.” Iʼm quite certain that the reservation of judgement by Nick and his father is the compensation for an unequal parceling of values. Nick and his father understand that they can not hold others to the same standards of decency that they hold themselves to.
All unreferenced quotes are from (Fitzgerald, 1). "