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Structure in Gatsby: Nick's Manipulation of Time and Sequence

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Hannah Clawson

on 3 October 2013

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Transcript of Structure in Gatsby: Nick's Manipulation of Time and Sequence

Narrative Structure
Structure in Gatsby: Nick's Manipulation of Time and Sequence.
Chapter 1
Immediately establishes retrospective narration.

All events will be presented in the order that Nick decides.

Non-linear narration.

Self-conscious narrative - Nick knows that his memories may be fragmented; subject to his own moral view or disjointed.
In my younger and more vulnerable years...

Why do we start with Nick's past?


And so it happened that on a warm windy evening I drove over to East Egg to see two old friends whom I scarcely knew at all.

What has been omitted? What can we identify in terms of narrative gaps? Holes in the sequence?

Consider also:
I'd known Tom in college...
I spent two days with them in Chicago...
He had changed since his New Haven years...



Chapter 3
What references to time can we identify in this chapter?

Work with a partner to identify as many time and sequencing references as you can find.

You can skim and scan this chapter for your answers - most are at the start of new paragraphs ;-)

Extension: Can language support structure? Can you identify the use of time-related lexis e.g. 'immediately', 'now, ' later' etc...


Conclusions...
It's all down to that narrator again!

'Reading over what I have written so far, I see I have given the impression that the events of three nights several weeks apart are all that absorbed me. On the contrary, they were merely casual events in a crowded summer,and, until much later, they absorbed me infinitely less than my personal affairs.'
References to time in Chapter 1
Chapter Two
I went up to New York with Tom on the train one afternoon.

Implies other trips, other meetings?

I have been drunk just twice in my life, and the second time was that afternoon; so everything that happened has a dim, hazy cast over it, although until after eight o'clock the apartment was full of cheerful sun.

The late afternoon sky...
It was nine o'clock - almost immediately afterward I looked at my watch and found it was ten.
Some time toward midnight...
...waiting for the four o'clock train.
What is the purpose of this rapid structural shift?
Full transcript