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On Literature SE there seems to be a general consensus that in the Great Gatsby the narrator, Nick Carraway, is gay (or at the very least sexually ambiguous).

I found this article on one SE answer: Gatsby: Gay Implications in Nick Carraway. While it appeared to answer my question it ultimately skirted around the ultimate significance of Nick being gay and went more for proving the fact.

I am of the same opinion. However I am having trouble understanding why Fitzgerald would choose to make Nick this way. How does it contribute to the reader's understanding of the themes? Did Fitzgerald merely do it because he could?

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For most of the novel, Nick has a completely erroneous conception of Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is selfish and a criminal. But Nick doesn't notice any of these imperfections in his character. Why not? I'd say because Nick is in love with Gatsby.

Fitzgerald filters the reader's view of Gatsby through Nick's skewed perspective. This is important, because it lets the reader be blindsided by the revelations about Gatsby's true character towards the end of the novel. If Nick wasn't in love with Gatsby, it would be much harder to justify why Nick had such a skewed view of him.

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  • That's a very lucid answer! Thank you. I arrived to mostly the same conclusion since I posed this question but one thing I have been conflicted about is whether Nick actually loves Gatsby or the idea of Gatsby(Gatsby being a symbol of hope to the repressed Nick). I haven't been able to find much direct evidence of love/sexual attraction(but rather admiration/idealization). Thank you again!
    – iceninja21
    Mar 1, 2023 at 3:54
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Nick lets readers know in chapter one that he’s a hypocrite. He tries to withhold judgment, but these folks right here… get a load of THEM! He casts such strong judgment on these characters not just because of how they treat Gatsby but what Gatsby represents, something that Nick strives to emulate—the idea that working for something you want pays off. Nick’s idealistic view of Gatsby mirrors Gatsby’s idealistic view of Daisy (and the work he’s done to “earn” her), which their being cousins also enhances. After everything goes down, Nick hates these city slickers so strongly because Gatsby’s failure to successfully reinvent himself is HIS failure to reinvent himself.

The back-home gossip of Nick’s broken engagement status… him gabbing with the girls the whole book… the failed attempt to pair him with a (queer foil) female character (masc-coded Jordan)… his inner monologue about entering his 30s, a decade of loneliness with “a thinning list of single men to know”… all signs.

Nick (albeit hesitantly) attends the party/orgy with Tom and company, does more than just “watch,” goes home with the “artsy” guy, wakes up to his hookup droning on about fairy tales (Beauty and the Beast—an unrealistic story of romantic, idealized love after being suppressed) and loneliness, and leaves feeling “cold”. Just as Gatsby’s foray into the pursuit of the American Dream doesn’t meet expectations, neither does Nick’s foray into the freer sexual opportunities of city life. If Gatsby could succeed, Nick could. Since Gatsby couldn’t, Nick realized he couldn’t.

The circumstances of one’s upbringing—the poverty of Gatsby, the Midwestern marriage ideals/expectations of Nick—hold them back. Turns out the city and its ideals weren’t as accepting and opportunity-rich as promised. Gatsby is a victim of circumstance and rejection, and Nick is, too. Gatsby’s dream is killed, and Gatsby (Nick’s dream guy) is killed.

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