"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 any one,' he told me, 'just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had.'
He didn't say any more, but we've always been unusually communicative in a reserved way, and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that. In consequence, I'm inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores. The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality when it appears in a normal person, and so it came about that in college I was unjustly accused of being a politician, because I was privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men. Most of the confidences were unsought - frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon; for the intimate revelations of young men, or at least the terms in which they express them, are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions. Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope. I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth."
The opening lines of The Great Gatsby by Francis Scott Fitzgerald are narrated by Nick Carraway, a young man who has recently become Gatsby's neighbour in 1920s Long Island.
We learn much about our narrator from these first lines.
He holds his father in high esteem although their relationship may have been somewhat distant, since he describes him as "unusually communicative in a reserved way".
Carraway is rich, since his father warns him to "remember...the advantages you've had".
His family's fortune wasn't made so long ago that he doesn't remember his social origins. He is new money. And proud of it.
We learn that he's a good listener, and people willingly confide their innermost secrets to him.
He is also, in some way, qualifying himself with these opening lines; qualifying the yarn he has begun to spin.
In a sense, he indirectly warns us about his own unreliability as a narrator, when he says "the intimate revelations of young men, or at least the terms in which they express them, are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions.".
We cannot but be drawn to this moral and humble character.
Something tells us he will tell it like it is.
Or he will try to, at least.
And you can't ask for much more from a good storyteller.