I erased it, drawing my shoe raspingly along the stone.
Nick acts as the keeper of Gatsby’s faith, honoring his dead friend’s memory. His erasure of the dirty word evokes the tending of a shrine.
The act also undermines Nick as a narrator. He cannot stand seeing Gatsby’s name tarnished. In this case he erases the graffiti; perhaps throughout the book he has also presented Gatsby in an idealized light, ignoring all the unsavory incidents.
This passage would later be echoed in a famous scene from J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, in which Holden Caulfield (a self-proclaimed lover of The Great Gatsby) erases obscene graffiti from the walls of a public school and a museum.
To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit “The Great Gatsby (Chapter IX)” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and leave a comment on the lyrics box