What’s the first line of The Great Gatsby?

Answered by Willian Lymon

The first line of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is, “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.” This opening sentence sets the tone for the entire novel, introducing the narrator’s reflective and introspective nature.

The use of the phrase “younger and more vulnerable years” immediately establishes a sense of nostalgia and longing for the past. It suggests that the narrator has grown older and perhaps wiser, looking back on a period of their life when they were more impressionable and susceptible to the influence of others.

The mention of the narrator’s father providing advice indicates a strong paternal influence in the narrator’s life. This sets the stage for exploring themes of family, upbringing, and the impact of parental guidance on one’s character development. It also suggests that the narrator holds their father’s words in high regard, as they have been contemplating them for a significant amount of time.

The advice itself, “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, he told me, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had,” offers a valuable lesson in empathy and understanding. It encourages the narrator (and the reader) to consider the circumstances and experiences of others before passing judgment or criticism.

This particular line highlights the underlying social commentary that permeates throughout the novel. The notion of privilege and the unequal distribution of advantages in society becomes a central theme in The Great Gatsby. The characters’ wealth, status, and the vast disparities between them are examined through the lens of this advice, shedding light on the consequences of societal divisions and the pursuit of the American Dream.

Fitzgerald’s choice to open the novel with this line immediately engages the reader’s curiosity. It creates a sense of intrigue, making us wonder how this advice will shape the narrator’s perspective and influence their interactions with the other characters we are about to encounter.

The first line of The Great Gatsby serves as a thought-provoking introduction to the novel. It establishes the narrator’s introspective nature, hints at themes of family and upbringing, and sets the stage for exploring social commentary and the consequences of privilege. This line invites readers to delve into a story that explores the complexities of human nature, ambition, and the allure of the American Dream.