Fallen Heroes

June 6, 2010
“Hero” is a confusing noun. When you ask different people, they respond differently based on their own life experiences. The definition of a hero from a dictionary is “a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.” Gatsby uses non-heroic means to try to get what he wants which means he is not really a hero. While Nick doesn’t do anything and lets things pass him by without judgment.

Gatsby is a bootlegger and illegally sold alcohol during prohibition to become rich and popular to try to get Daisy. Being a criminal does not make you heroic. He doesn’t care about her marriage with Tom. All he cares about his himself and his past with Daisy in the beginning. Near the end of the book he shows that he cares about Nick. They became really good friends. Gatsby really did not have that many close friends besides Nick. He values Nick’s friendship, which is a heroic quality. He also lets Daisy drive away from the crime scene, although it is understandable because it was kind of obvious Mrytle was already dead. Gatsby said, “I tried to make her stop but she couldn’t so I pulled on the emergency break. Then she fell over into my lap and I drove on. She’ll be all right tomorrow.” Gatsby cares about if Daisy will be okay after killing someone, but not the fact that she killed someone. This isn’t heroic of him to drive away and to not care about it. Any extremely honorable person would have stopped and at least checked and tried to help. The majority of people would probably just have drove away just like Gatsby and Daisy. It wasn’t courageous of them to just drive away.
Gatsby also lies about his past. He is ashamed of where he came from. He worked hard to make a whole new life for himself, but he somehow thinks his past would hold him back. He just erased it from his current life and started over. Heroes do not lie to become the person they think they should be.
On the other hand, Gatsby doesn’t let anything hold him back. He knows what he wants and tries his hardest to get it. He doesn’t let his past interfere with who he wants to be, even if his motives were immoral. It is inspiring for someone who does what he wants to get what he wants. That is an honorable quality in a person. He invites Daisy over for tea just to try to show her she made the wrong decision. It is not his fault she is shallow and materialistic. He just knows that is how he can get her. She cries over his shirts because she realizes Gatsby is well off enough to take care of her and her high standards of living.
Nick doesn’t really have any heroic qualities. He doesn’t show any courage. He just sits back and lets people talk to him and he doesn’t do anything. The only person he ever defended in this novel is Gatsby. After Nick found out that Tom told Mr. Wilson it was Gatsby’s fault he said, ”There was nothing I could say, except the one unmutterable fact that it wasn’t true…I couldn’t forgive him or like him but I saw that he had done was, to him, entirely justified.” He could of told him the truth but he instead left it alone. He found out that Tom directly caused the murder of Gatsby and he didn’t say anything to him. He just knew that Tom thought it was justified and left it at that. The only good thing about him is he is honest and loyal. He sticks by Gatsby’s side through everything and is one of the few friends at the funeral. The fact that he was loyal to Gatsby and stood by his side shows that he was an extremely good person once you become friends with him and he respected you.

Nick is the only character in this book that is not a cheater.
He tells Jordan how he feels about her and tries not to lead her on. He just leaves her alone. He never does anything stupid or dumb. He is just kind of there. Not passing judgment but not doing anything that requires other people to judge him, although, loyalty and honesty do not make a hero. He doesn’t do anything brave or life changing.

Putting a definition on the word hero is very challenging. It’s even more difficult to try to put a name on the word hero. Nick or Gatsby? Neither? Both? Neither of them are heroes, but they also are not villains or anything completely horrible. Nick was raised to be honest and non-judging, although there is a line between not passing judgment and misjudging. Sometimes you have to talk about secrets you know to protect someone you care for. And Nick does not do that once in the whole book. Gatsby is just a liar and uses false pretenses to get what he wants. The only good qualities Gatsby has are the fact that he goes after what he wants. Which depending on your viewpoints can either be a good thing or a bad quality.

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