When I was reading chapter 3 of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, a few lines made me pause. On page 38, paragraph 1, an extremely drunk Nick Carraway says the following about his artist friend Mr. McKee, who, it should be noted, is described as “pale and feminine,” (Fitzgerald 30), “…I was standing beside his bed and he was sitting up between the sheets, clad in his underwear,..”.

Additionally, there are several other passages in the chapter that could be described as euphemistic. “‘Keep your hands off the lever,’ snapped the elevator boy.” (Fitzgerald 37) and “…I wiped from his cheek the remains…of dried lather…” (Fitzgerald 36) could both have sexual subtexts? These euphemisms and Nick’s closeness with McKee throughout the entire night occur simultaneously to Nick’s avoidance of Myrtle’s sister Catherine, who is described as “…very beautiful by people who ought to know.” (Fitzgerald 28). Clearly, Nick isn’t as suave with the ladies as the time would expect him to be, in fact, it seems like he isn’t interested at all.

Original photo from flickr.com

People who don’t think that Nick is gay argue that he may just not “fit in” among the old money and opulence of 1920s long island. They argue that he’s simply a shy man who doesn’t feel like he’s in the right place, and they point to his pursuit of Jordan Baker as evidence and granted, he does kiss her in chapter four, and may also go further later in the book, although I have not read that far at the time of this writing.

However, as opposed to many other passages in the book, his kiss of Jordan Baker is described very dryly and without the flowing prose of many other scenes, almost as though the writer, in this case, Nick himself, does not view the situation as sensuous or exciting. Specifically, saying that he “drew her up…to [his] face”, instead of saying something like lips or describing the kiss in any detail, supports the point I made above.

In conclusion, from what I have seen so far, I think that it is very likely that Nick Carraway is gay or at least bi-curious. However, I’d love to know what you think. Is he gay? Is he not? And why?

Original photos from flickr.com and commons.wikimedia.org

  1. Andrew 4 years ago

    Hey Roan,
    I think this is a fascinating and very unorthodox view of this story and you made some great observations! I personally loved the euphemisms you found as I never would have even noticed them unless pointed out. You also said that his kiss was described very dryly and I think it would be interesting to look at romantic moments between other characters to really compare and contrast those to see if Fitzgerald was trying to sneak this into his writing.
    Great points!

    • Author
      Roan 4 years ago

      Thank you so much for your feedback! I think that a lot of people agree with me that the descriptions of men are just more, for lack of a better word, sensuous. Especially the last two chapters, lines like “they’re a rotten bunch…” have almost completely convinced me.

  2. Ryan 4 years ago

    Hello Roan,
    I really enjoyed your post. I have read The Great Gatsby many times. I have never connected that Nick Carraway may “swing for the other team.” Your evidence is substantial. I don’t think he is completely gay. He may be bi- curious. Throughout the novel he does date a woman, but that could mean nothing. I’m not one hundred percent sure if he is or is not gay. I think it just depends on how you interpret the writing.
    Great post!
    Ryan Castle

    • Author
      Roan 4 years ago

      First of all, thank you for your response. And yes, I have though a lot about Nick’s pursuit of Jordan, and it is hard to reconcile with my theory. However, all of the parts with Jordan seem like he’s trying to get himself to “like” Jordan and that he believes it’s what he should do. Jordan is never described in the beautiful and flowing language used to describe Gatsby or even Daisy. Perhaps it’s just me, or I’m over analyzing, but as someone who is LGBT (bisexual), I know how easy it is to rationalize oneself into, or, in my case, out of, thoughts and emotions as pertaining to one’s sexuality. Now I know that my argument is a very subjective one, and maybe it isn’t as obvious to someone who is straight (I assume you are I don’t actually know), but I’d love to know what you think.

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