I’m inclined to reserve all judgements, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores.
What I love foremost about Fitzgerald’s writing is his unaccountable ability to turn a gorgeous phrase, the way he can string words together in unexpected ways to make a perfect description that you didn’t know could exist before you saw it but you can’t forget once you have. But this is an example of another of his characteristic gifts, his ability to see into the hearts of men, their beliefs about themselves which they use for cover and justification.
Ironically, this is Nick’s first judgment in the book, his explanation for why he’s an observer, merely a repository for the secrets of wilder men. It’s a disclaimer and excuse but not an abdication of his moral core, because it’s also an implicit promise to pass judgment at the end. He reserves judgment but it’s going to come eventually, and all along the way he pitilessly collects the incidents and details that will inform his opinion.