The First Line of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

A pile of books stacked sporadically on each other

The first line of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald reads:

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. 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.

F. Scott Fitzgerald introduces readers to the narrator, Nick Carraway, in the first two lines. These words reflect Carraway’s understanding of the importance of mindfulness, especially when it comes to privilege and money, themes that The Great Gatsby centers around. His father explains that not everyone he meets will come from the same privileges he has.

The first line of The Great Gatsby also suggests that reflecting on the past can provide important context and lessons for the future. Later, Carraway will introduce Jay Gatsby, the story’s protagonist, who will run into the same types of instances throughout the novel.

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