School Papers

The had to be written off as the

The Great Gatsby was written between the two world wars. The story revolves around two men: Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan. Then why did F. Scott Fitzgerald choose to narrate from Nick Carraway’s perspective? One argument is to leave some mystery concerning the other major characters, their motivations and thoughts. Another, less explored argument is that Fitzgerald wanted to explore sexualities outside of society’s norm, but how did he do this? Nick Carraway’s sexuality will be explored and contextualised, with quotations from the novel.This story takes place during the great depression of the roaring twenties, when non-heterosexuality was illegal. Due to this, Fitzgerald was unable to write homosexual characters, unlike this century’s writers. Any accusations of him writing about homosexuality had to be written off as the accuser imagining those implications. Therefore, Fitzgerald had to use utmost caution in his endeavors to represent non-conforming individuals. Any explicit comment, and it would have been the end of his career as an author. Who would risk the American Dream for Nick Carraway? Not Fitzgerald, nor literary critics who ignored this topic. Nick was in a relationship with Miss Jordan Baker, is an argument used a bit too often to reject Nick being a non-heterosexual man.That argument is not wholly incorrect, but it indicates the misinformation still prevalent today. A man can be attracted to a woman without being heterosexual. Nick may not even have been truly attracted to her femininity. Nick describes Jordan as a “young cadet”, in a time where female soldiers were unheard of. This highlights she does not look very feminine, nor behave as women was expected to. She is given masculine characteristics so that Nick can be attracted. Furthermore, when they break up, Nick does not seem distraught, an indicator he was not romantically involved with Jordan. Let’s also remember that “young cadets” are boys, usually in their teens, not as masculine as Tom Buchanan. Fitzgerald notes Nick is attracted — socially, not explicitly sexually — to assertive masculinity. Tom makes a great example, as Nick notes his misbehaviour, yet still chooses to follow him around and spend time together. In the first chapter, Daisy’s “knuckle was black and blue.” After that, she says Tom did it, but he decides to note on his distaste for the word “hulking”. Gatsby is described as less manly, though with more care than any other character, indicating that Nick is very interested in him. In general, the women are described as though they are much less attractive than the men, solely because Nick holds no interest in the female population and thus feels it unnecessary to describe them positively as he does men.Nick meets Mr. McKee, a “feminine man”, photographer, turbulent towards figures like Tom and his wife (who is not attractively described by Nick). McKee falls asleep, and Nick wakes him by gently wiping his face, not the most heterosexual move. McKee takes Nick to his apartment, using the elevator. Its operator tells McKee not to touch the lever. However, in those elevators, operators would not leave the lever exposed for other men to touch, even when they closed the doors. Therefore, this is a sexual innuendo. McKee touches a symbol of the male reproductive organ, with Nick present, after which Nick uses ellipses excessively, implicating something happened that should not be discussed. After this event, McKee lies in bed, wearing only underwear and showing Nick some of his pictures. It is odd to undress just to show someone photographs, making this scene the biggest indicator of homosexuality. Later in the novel, during chapter seven, when Nick discusses turning thirty, he says the following in his narration: “(…) the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, (…)”. Why would a straight man mind about the singleness of the men he can meet? Right after, however, he mentions Jordan Baker again, as an attempt to erase his homosexuality.Nick is in his twenties and single, not according to that time’s norms. But he admires Jay Gatsby’s “extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such that I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.” This quote is subtly powerful, indicating a love much deeper than friendship. Nick loves Gatsby. As a reminder, Nick wrote the story a few years after it took place. Him saying he will never find such a person again suggests he did not when he wrote his account, indicating he was truly, deeply, madly in love with Gatsby, though he could not admit it even to himself because of the societal norms. Nick Carraway perfectly portrays a marginalised homosexual man in the early twentieth century. His struggles are subtly hidden, yet blatantly available for those willing to see them.

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