Yet high over the city our line of yellow windows must have contributed their share of human secrecy to the casual watcher in the darkening streets, and I was him too, looking up and wondering. I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.

from F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby (Chapter II) on Rap Genius

Meaning

Nick gets really deep here. He starts thinking about how the apartment he is in looks like just another window to someone on the outside looking in, no different from the other hundred windows the onlooker is looking at. But the reality is that a drunken, decadent party is going on inside. It all depends on perspective.

Then Nick starts looking at himself from two perspectives. First as a member of the secrecy that goes on behind closed doors and windows, like the party he is attending now. But he doesn’t really feel like a part of this party and can’t relate to the Myrtle’s and the Tom’s of the world. So he then compares himself to the onlookers in the street, because Nick feels more like someone who is just observing what is going on around him. Nick is included in the party so he’s not quite an onlooker, but he doesn’t agree with what it going on so he isn’t really a participant either.

This reinforces the idea that Nick is one of the many people who is just drifting through life. He follows the popular trend to New York like millions of others. He never stands up for himself so he ends up being treated like someone who doesn’t exist. And he just views love as a fleeting thing, so he never spends too much time with anyone.

It is things like this that make Nick a good narrator for this story, but somewhat of a sympathetic and depressing character on his own.

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