The Great Gatsby: Intimate and Complex Friendship

Higher Level English 2015 Paper 2

“The friendship between Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby is fascinating because it is both intimate and complex.” Discuss this view of the friendship between Carraway and Gatsby. Support your answer with reference to the novel, The Great Gatsby. 

Things that your essay has to include:

1. Introduction: whether you agree/agree to an extent/disagree with the statement. 
  • Address this in your opening sentence
  • The most useful strategy is to agree with a caveat. The questions are almost always designed in a way that there is more  material to support the statement. But the caveat allows you to bring in other points that contradict the view. Texts chosen for the Leaving Cert possess the complexity required to discuss it in shades of gray. 
  • Furthermore, you can include a limitation to your analysis - why you cannot fully answer this questions (you will see in the last paragraph).

2. Support your view: below are some initial thoughts. Flesh them out with your references to the text and you are on track to a fully-fledged essay written by you
  • The friendship stems from Nick's curiosity and awe at Gatsby's lifestyle
  • The relationship has depth and intimacy, but it's as if there is always a glass wall between them. It is as if Nick never really knows whether Gatsby is telling him the full truth, or the truth - at all. While he is tempted, he never go so far as to definitively assume or decide something about Gatsby and oversimplify his character. Nick continues to be fascinated by Gatsby as he learns more about him. Contrasting sharply with the surrounding pretense, there is a genuine, uninhibited, vulnerable and uncomplicated facet to the relationship, that ultimately makes it thrive. (See what I meant about the caveat?)
  • They are two very different people in terms of their character, ambition, values, vision. Society sees them differently. At the same time they seem to experience a lot of the same emotions driven by the experiences they live through together. This genuine resonance, a mutual empathy, seems to be part of the reason their friendship evolves.
  • Nick is the narrator and we learn more about his inner world from his own descriptions. We learn about Gatsby as he reflects on Nick. So while it may be easy for us to comment on how Nick felt about Gatsby, we can only gather so much about what Gatsby though of Nick. (See what I meant by limitation?)
  • Is Gatsby using Nick? Did the relationship flourish more when Gatsby started seeing Nick as a way to get to Daisy?
3. Conclude with a throwback to the introduction 

Reference: Indicative material of SEC Marking Scheme English Higher Level 2015

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