The Great Gatsby - Aspects of Narrative

Sophie Beckingham
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Sophie Beckingham
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1 Chapter 1
1.1 Flashback
1.1.1 P: Nick is an Intrusive narrator who looks back on his past
1.1.2 E: "In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice...Whenever you feel like criticising anyone...just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had.""
1.1.3 A: This flashback "In my younger years" suggests he is unreliable. He is looking back on the past and his memories will be distorted by the things he has witnessed throughout the book. Also, why is his father telling him this? This dialogue makes the readers question the how reliable Nick is as later he contradicts himself saying that he is "inclines to reserve all judgements". His father may be telling him this because he knows Nick judges people for being lower then him. Also, structurally, this builds Nick's characterisation for later on in the narrative.
1.2 Symbolism
1.2.1 P: The symbolism of the green light highlights Gatsby's dream.
1.2.2 E: "He stretched out his arms towards the dark water in a curious way...I could have sworn to seen him trembling...and distinguished nothing except a single green light."
1.2.3 A: Connotes envy, sick, jealousy, hope. By him reaching out and "trembling" shows how bad he wants to achieve his dream. This hope keeps Gatsby alive and fighting for Daisy. It also adds to the mysteriousness of Gatsby. Reflects the American Dream
1.3 Setting
1.3.1 P: The setting shows how class were divided in society
1.3.2 E: "I lived at West Egg, the - well, the less fashionable of the two"
1.3.3 This foreshadows how Gatsby will never end up with Daisy. In West Egg, there are people who are rich from making their own money and they didn't inherit it. East Egg is fashionable but faking its appealing surfaces hides the realities. This portrays the different status of Daisy and Tom depict they will never be together, foreshadowing a tragic ending
1.4 Foreshadowing
1.4.1 P: the description of Gatsby's mansion, mentioning the pool foreshadows the death of Gatsby's death
1.4.2 E: "Spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming was Gatsby's mansion"
1.4.3 A: Includes the description of the swimming pool to highlight it's importance. The swimming pool has great significance at the ending. The extravagant image that Fitzgerald presents the readers with of Gatsby's mansion suggests that this story can be classed as a romantic novel. How much Gatsby 'loves' Daisy. Gatsby's mansion is often reflected back to by Fitzgerald throughout the narrative.
1.5 Use of Tenses
1.5.1 P: Creates a sense of fractured reality "What Gatsby represented" vs "I not likely shall ever find again" Nick is continuously switching the perspective from which he tells the story, he frequently interchanges the past and present tenses which evokes a feeling of uncertainty. The constantly shifting time settings create a sense of fractured reality, and a reality that is dependent on its relationship to the past. Furthermore, there is underlying analepsis within the chapter, as; "What Gatsby represented",which has a implication of death, and here Nick is talking about a character who he has not even met yet within the narrative.
2 Chapter 2
2.1 Setting
2.1.1 P: The setting highlights the division of class
2.1.2 E: "This is the valley of ashes - a fantastic farm where ashes grow...and grotesque gardens...ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke."
2.1.3 A: The valley of ashes is a place of poverty and is a dumping ground. It can be seen as the physical dumping ground of dumping waste but also the literal dumping ground where people dump their problems. The upper class ignore the reality of the valley of ashes. Fitzgerald also uses lexis of destruction. "ashes" "smoke" and "grotesque". The increasingly addictive hedonistic lifestyle results in an uncontrollable and ugly growth, a mutation of the morals of society until they are completely wiped out and only destruction remains.
2.2 Narrator
2.2.1 P: Nick's reconstruction of drunkenness makes him unreliable E: "Everything that happened has a dim, hazy cast over it" A: For most of the novel Nick is presented as an advocate of sobriety, he does not seem to drink as much as the rest of the New York inhabitants, which permits his narration to have more validity for the majority. However in chapter 2, his state of inebriation brings him to the point of incoherency and he is unable to comprehend events. For instance we do not really know if Nick heard whole conversations and quite understood the lead up to Myrtle’s nose getting broken. Furthermore, there is a gap in the narrative, highlighting the effect of discontinuity with an ellipsis at the end, “Beauty and the Beast . . . Loneliness . . . “ formulating a sense of an irrational world devoid of meaning.
2.3 Symbolism
2.3.1 P: The eyes of TJ Eckleburg can be symbolise God.
2.3.2 E: "The eyes of TJ Eckleburg are blue and gigantic...Doctor Ekleburg's persistent stare"
2.3.3 A: The eyes are referred to as "gigantic" which makes the readers feel as though they are the eyes of God constantly watching society. These eyes watch everything go wrong and they watch upon the destruction of lives. The eyes judge society and the morals of the people. These can also be seen as the most sinister eyes in throughout the narrative. Wilson sees the old optician advert as the eyes of God, this could also symbolise that a society that needs "vision correcting" in order to see its faults.
2.4 Speeding of Time
2.4.1 P: Reflects the pace of the Jazz Age E: “people disappeared, reappeared”, “It was nine o’clock-almost immediately afterwards I looked at my watch and found it was ten” A: indicative of the fast-paced lifestyle enjoyed by the population of New York in the Jazz Age. It can furthermore reflect Nick’s confusion, thus showing he does not fit in in this world. Moreover, it generates a notion of futility “people disappeared, reappeared”, with a concept delivered that everything in this society is temporary, and reflects the changing nature of the 20s.
3 Chapter 3
3.1 Setting
3.1.1 P:used to emphasise the extravagance and materialism which seemingly represents Gatsby’s character. E: • The use of ‘Glistening hors’ d’oeuvre’ highlight Gatsby’s superiority as well as the adjective represents unattainability- also representative of Daisy’s character, he desires to attain her but he is unable to. A: Gatsby uses lavish parties as a method of social control and an attempt to impress Daisy; the concept of wealth as it highlights Gatsby’s hedonistic desires and the theme of appearances
3.2 Symbolism
3.2.1 P: Indicates the facade that is present E: "pulpless halves" and "uncut A: Gatsby’s library of uncut books also remain to be a symbol for the illusion faced by many of the characters. This also represents the concept of appearances and the fact that lavish lifestyles such as this are hard to maintain, and although may seem attainable, in reality they are not durable. The delivery of oranges and lemons, and the use of servants illustrate the artificial creation of success and wealth. Symbolism is shown in the pyramid of oranges halves which represent the lavish beauty of the hedonistic lifestyle while also contrasting to chowing the by-product of capitalism meaning one can never be whole- Gatsby can never be whole without the attainment of Daisy.
3.3 Narration
3.3.1 P: The homodiegetic narration E: "quality of eternal reassurance" A: Nick clearly immediately grows an attachment and appreciation for Gatsby and feels comfortable in his presence, his smiles reportedly had ‘a quality of eternal reassurance in it’. This to an extent also shows the depth of trust Nick has immediately gained for Gatsby which forces the reader to also adopt such feelings. Nick therefore has the potential to be swayed by emotional factors and is therefore unable to act as an impartial spectator as he forms opinions on characters which affect his judgement and accuracy.
3.4 Foreshadowing
3.4.1 P: The product of hedonistic lifestyle is tragedy E: "New coupe" • Owl Eyes was a passenger in a ‘new coupé’ with the wheel detached. The very drunk guest insists he was not driving, that he knows next to nothing about driving. This accident seems to foreshadow the later one when Daisy is driving the “death car” which kills Myrtle. Daisy does not take the blame and take account for her actions similar to the man described as ‘owl eyes’.
4 Chapter 4
4.1 Narration
4.1.1 Retrospective narration Allows a homodiegetic account of Daisy and Gatsby's first encounter so that any gaps in the narrative are due to Jordan instead of Nick for a change. Reader can fully immerse themselves in the memory of Jordan's first hand encounter and captures the mood. Structurally placed at the end so that when Gatsby arrives at Nick's house in chapter 5 there is an initial introduction to the situation "Said Jordan Baker...I was walking"
4.2 Time
4.2.1 "One sunday morning" Religious connotations ironic due to lack of morality present within the novel
4.2.2 "July 5th 1922" Aftermath of iconic holiday and this Gatsby's party. Such celebrations used to display wealth of the new rich as they did not have connections of the old rich
4.2.3 "One october day in 1917" Towards end of WW1 surrounded by destruction, Daisy lives an uncorrupted life. The revolvment around her in the middle of destruction is proleptic as it associates Daisy with being the centre of attention
4.3 Setting
4.3.1 P: As more layers of Gatsby's identity is uncovered E: "in white heaps and sugar leaps" "gorgeous car...swollen here and there in its monstrous length" "presbyterian nymphs on the ceiling" First quote portrays the way in which New York is built upon materialism and consumerism. Second phallic imagery connotes the masculinity of wealth and the inability of women to gain their own money within society. Proof that even with looser morals, 1920s America was still dominated by men. Finally there is irony in the religious symbolism within a setting in which corrupt men and illegal business operate. Provides a sense of judgement, also as if old rich are judging the ways in which the new rich get money.
4.4 Symbolism
4.4.1 Cheating Way in which the new rich accomplish the american dream. Also cheating in sport (Jordan) which provides insight into the corruption within the upper class and their ability to manipulate a situation to their advantage. Jordan is a woman however so maybe this is the only way she can succeed. "Fixed the world series"
4.4.2 Valley of Ashes Symbol of capitalist waste. Symbolic of the unpleasant journey taken to achieve the american dream, just as Gatsby and Nick take an unpleasant journey into New York "Opened out on both sides of us"
4.4.3 Idolisation Link between Gatsby and the symbol of hope because they are spreading Gatsby's influence of happiness and drunkenness over the new rich population. Could also be interpreted as NIck and Gatsby chasing the ilght away as Nick encorages Gatsby's pursuit of the american dream through corruption and immortality "Scattered light through half Long Island city
4.5 Prolepsis
4.5.1 "Old metropole" "Filled with faces dead and gone" Wolfsheim reminiscing on his past which seems very similar to Nick's present. His friend dying foreshadows Nick's friend Gatsby dying. Shows how corruption can provide downfall. Also Daisy and Tom and all the other acquaintances who are gone which reflects on the brevity and superficiality of the relationships made within the confinements of the hedonistic lifestyle
5 Chapter 5
5.1 Setting
5.1.1 "admired the gardens, the sparkling odor of jonquils and the frothy odor of hawthorn and plum blossoms and the pale gold odor of kiss-me-at-the-gate." Display of Gatsby's excessive wealth. Idyllic setting, like his dream of his life with Daisy, also focuses on the necessity of appearance in establishing status. The repetition of floral imagery in the first bit at Gatsby's house connotes her importance to him and the obsessive nature of his pursuit.
5.2 Imagery
5.2.1 "Overwound clock" Gatsby's adolescent dream has passed its point of being able to succeed. Trying to retrieve something unattainable from another lifetime.
5.2.2 "Enchanted objects" Correlates with semantic field of fantasy, as Daisy's maiden name is 'Fay' which implies that she and Gatsby are from different world's and foreshadowing that they will never be together
5.2.3 "Pouring rain" "Soggy" "cry stormily" Pathetic fallacy, demonstrates Gatsby's turbulent anxiety prior to Daisy's arrival. The rain clears once he and Daisy have reconciled. The relation to later when Daisy cries stormily because she could have been with the man she loved, if only it were not for the barriers between their two classes
5.3 Narration
5.3.1 P: Nick becomes a source of credibility and importance for the first time Homodiegetic narration throughout, improving the versimilitude of his account as he is present for all events described. Also results in gaps in the narrative“Leaving them there together”, and Nick seeing Gatsby's change from "trembling fingers" to "new well being". Improves credibility as it is not just surmises of the conversations and is immediate emotions. Nick's position of omniscient narrator is reversed, he becomes a crucial part of the events by invitng Daisy round so she and Gatsby could meet again. Also the reader is suspended in eager anticipation as to what is going to happen next.
5.4 Symbolism
5.4.1 His mansion "catches the light" Analepsis of the green light in chapter one. Symbolises Gatsby's pursuit of Daisy. Gatsby attempts to entice Daisy through his affluence and possessions., here Fitzgerald is showing that Gatsby believes he can catch the light, symbolic of Daisy.
5.4.2 "Colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever" Had previously represented the distance between the two, where it had once seemed "as close as a star to the moon" he believed that it had now become nothing more than a "green light on a dock" now that he had Daisy by his side which suggests that for Gatsby at this moment in time, his American Dream is complete
5.5 Lack of dialogue
5.5.1 May have acted as an anticlimax Emotions shown through character actions such as "toppled down the stairs" state further captured by Nick's omniscient narration, from "embarassment" to "wonder" to "joy"
6 Chapter 6
6.1 Setting
6.1.1 Natural imagery "leaves were falling" "moonlight" "bustle among the stars" could suggest Gatsby's love for Daisy is pure and natural and not corrupted by superficiality "desolate path of fruit rinds and discarded favors and crushed flowers" reminder that decadence leads to decay, also that Daisy could end up 'crushed' as a result of her immortality
6.2 Analeptic exposition
6.2.1 Disperses ‘wild rumours’ of Gatsby’s past created through layers of previous metanarrative strands: ‘oxford man’ ‘German spy’ ‘young rajah’. Parents described as; ‘shiftless and unsuccessful farm people’ – ‘unsuccessful’ failure in material terms and ‘shiftless’ suggesting flawed characters with lack of purpose and drive. Acts as an anti-climax: Gatsby has rejected his past preferring the misconceptions • Nick is also unable to accept their simplicity, describing Gatsby’s as springing from ‘the platonic conception of himself’. Gatsby’s ability to transcend his origins demonstrate his boundless capacity for hope which captivates Nick ‘extraordinary gift for hope’
6.3 Narration
6.3.1 "Dan Cody inhospitably died" The reader isn’t told how Dan Cody dies = his life & Gatsby’s past is still just as mysterious as it way before Gaps
6.3.2 "Where the devil he met Daisy?" Gap in Tom’s narrative knowledge of his wife’s life = the reader is more aware of things that should concern him than he is
6.3.3 "Very much later" Fitzgerald uses the retrospective narration of Nick to testify his motivation for telling the legend (as a character he idolises Gatsby, as a narrator reports events with a desire for the reader to see his perspective). However by withholding this information the reader has indulged in Nicks fantasy – but the question of what else Nick has not revealed becomes prominent . This feeling is emphasized when Nick says at this point he believed: ‘everything and nothing about him’ • His outlook on Gatsby is dichotomous and one of two extremes, rationalist and romantic – his indecisiveness on the matter expresses his inability to narrate events objectively and with a detached state of mind as they transpire
6.4 Symbolism
6.4.1 ‘the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy’s wing’ metaphorically alluding to Daisy because of her maiden name "Fay", and rock also has connotations of diamonds and thereby suggests that the security of wealth is Daisy's focus, and that the wealth was always going to stay with people like the east eggers or the old rich
7 Chapter 7
7.1 Narration
7.1.1 Homodiegetic narration but not throughout Use of reported text "My Finn informed me" meaning what Nick is saying may not be true Fitzgerald uses Michaelis perspective eliminating Nick from the scene of Myrtle's death. This is necessary because Nick was not there.
7.2 Symbolism
7.2.1 Light "when curiosity about Gatsby was at its highest that the lights in his house failed to go on one Saturday night" All of his parties held at night with artificial light. Light represents hopes and dreams. The artificial light represents the illusion of Gatsby's parties. Now that he has Daisy, Gatsby no longer needs the illusions of the parties to lure her in, as he can embrace reality
7.2.2 Doctor Eckleburg's Eyes "Over the ashheaps the giant eyes of Doctor TJ Eckleburg kept their vigil" Blue of his eyes represents God watching America as well as the American Dream. The yellow rim of the glasses symbolises the corruption of the american dream. The purposeful watching of the destruction.
7.3 Setting
7.3.1 Heat "broiling" "warmest day of the summer" Symbolises coming conflict and foreshadows the climax of emotions to lead to Myrtle's death. Heat also depicts mix and confusion of emotions, Daisy recognises that "it's so hot and everything's confused" Plaza hotel "the room was large and stuffy" vs valley of ashes where "death car" The lavish display of hedonism within these lavish settings where the illusion is held up by money and pretenses, and then the valley of ashes where the pretenses disitegrate and result in disastrous consequences
7.4 Dialogue
7.4.1 Combines Nick's commentary with lively and varied dramatic scenes Daisy: "what'll we do with ourselves this afternoon" Thinks about her future knowing momentarily she is with Tom. Her tone shows one of despair, with the prose "cried" indicating she is dreading the future before it happens. Mirrored by Nick at the end of the chapter saying there will be a "decade of loneliness" "Why not let her alone old sport" Gatsby noticeably stands up to Tom. Although he is issuing a challenge, he still uses 'old sport' showing he is stuck in his habit of trying hard to make friends, using the upper class english phrase. Tom is still a highly respected person with many connections. "You loved me too" with the emphasised too along with the narrative prose "he repeated" indicates his incredulity that Daisy actually loved this man, and shows how an important part of his american dream is that she only loves him
8 Chapter 8
8.1 Time Sequencing
8.1.1 the strange story of his youth with Dan Cody - This narrative was presented by Nick in Chapter 6 but chronologically is told on the final morning of Gatsby’s life. It leads into the story of his relationship with Daisy, from Gatsby’s point of view. This narrative has already been told from Jordan’s point of view in Chapter 4.
8.2 Narration
8.2.1 Heterodiagetic and intradiegetic narration, use of Gatsby;s voice, Jordan's, George Wilson's Nick retelling his experience and what he had heard "You're worth the whole damn bunch"=emotional bias"
8.3 Symbolism
8.3.1 Pool Symbolizes Gatsby's dream of luxury, which he never fully realizes -- neither in social status nor in his relationship with Daisy. The old rich never fully accept him into their society, and Daisy never leaves Tom. He tries to retrieve some of the dream in the end, when goes to the pool for the last time before it is drained. The blue color of the water in the pool also represents illusion in color imagery. At the beginning of the chapter, Gatsby's gardener asks him if he should drain the pool because "leaves will start falling pretty soon, and then there 's always trouble with pipes." and Gatsby replies with"don't do it today, you know, old sport, I've never used that pool all summer?" These conversation suggests that Gatsby never actually realized his dream to capture Daisy or the world she represents. It shows though that in the end he is still trapped in his illusion.
8.3.2 Fallen Leaves The leaves near the pool symbolize the downfall of Gatsby’s life. When the gardener tells Gatsby that the “leaves will start falling pretty soon()” it reminds us of fall, a time of decay. At the end of the chapter, after Gatsby is shot, “the touch of a cluster of leaves revolved it [ the rubber mattress with Gatsby’s body on it] slowly, tracing, like the leg of transit, a thin red circle in the water. ” which represent the end of Gatsby's live.
8.4 Prolepsis
8.4.1 "I couldn't sleep" "half sick between grotesque reality and savage frightening dreams"
9 Chapter 9
9.1 Lexical Feild
9.1.1 "thick drizzle" "soggy" "straggled" Sombre mood of the narrative, anticlimatic and depressing, as is the lack of mourners at Gatsby's funeral and the inferred lack of respect and overall recognition afforded to Gatsby. Illustrates he may have reached the status he wanted, but never the identity, especially as Daisy did not turned up, that would have been all he cared about
9.2 Symbolism
9.2.1 Hope 'believed in the green light' not just the light on Daisy's dock, but the moral of carrying on, the 'go ahead' his language portrays him as an idol, a 'god' and a man to follow.
9.3 Narration
9.3.1 Retrospective Narration "After two years" Lack of reliability, such information has been reported after two years, simply cannot be accurate. Despite the lapse in time, Gatsby’s influence is still prevalent, emphasising Nick's idolisation.
9.4 Setting
9.5 Shifts in linear fashion
9.5.1 Jordan accuses him of being a "bad driver" Analeptic to Myrtle's death and a implication of a poor golfer. Alluding to Jordan having to cheat to win, and also is a structural echo to the metanarrative introduced in chapter 1 where Gatsby reaches out to bridge the gap between him and the 'single green light' which ultimately he failed.
9.6 Epistolary form
9.6.1 "Mixed up in this thing" Gangster culture, highlighting the theme of corruption and Wolfsheim's reluctance to attend Gatsby's funeral and his writing a letter so as to keep a distance from his links with Gatsby and bootlegging, as a method of self preservation, indicating the lack of sentimentality and high selfishness that ran rampant in the Jazz Age

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