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The Great Gatsby L5
Transcript of The Great Gatsby L5
The Great Gatsby
Half Term Study
Events in Gatsby
(cc) image by nuonsolarteam on Flickr
How does Fitzgerald structure the narrative of The Great Gatsby?
Answer using appropriate terminology from the Aspects of Narrative booklet
Kernels and Satellites
Beginning and End
Free Indirect Style
First person narration
Second person narration
Third person narration
Narration (see sub-divisions as well)
Derived from a title -
The titular character in a novel (i.e. Gatsby)
The person after whom a literary work, film, etc., is named -
The eponymous heroine in the novel Jane Eyre
Although it appears that Fitzgerald is ordering his narrative through content, it's not as straightforward as that. While some of the events do seem to occur sequentially, there are a number of techniques being deployed that subvert the supposed chronology by altering the form.
The story is narrated through a ‘modified’ first person viewpoint :
it is not the main protagonist (Gatsby) who recounts his own story but a secondary character, Nick Carraway, who is successively suspicious, wary and eventually fascinated by Gatsby. Nick is not trustworthy, not fully reliable : he oscillates.
whenever Nick cannot obtain a first hand version of facts, he does not hesitate to quote other sources. For instance, Gatsby’s love affair is told by Jordan Baker (chap.4 p80). Nick reports her words but the problem is that she is said to be a liar : how far can she be trusted ?
Nick is obliged to reconstruct an event through the collage of different testimonies. Nick uses his logical mind to come up with a definitive story, result of words that have been filtered by different minds.
That is why this first person viewpoint is modified : Nick can only rely on what he has been told.
Home Study Part 1: Read the essay entitled
Structure and Narration in The Great Gatsby
Form vs Content
refers to events in a story and characters in a story and what happens to them
refers to how narrative content is formed
Stories can be told in two different ways:
: the order in which the events in a story actually happened
: the order of events the narrator/ author chooses to tell you the events in e.g. Flashbacks/ fragmented time
Mismatch between content order and form order is often an aesthetic strategy adopted by authors to create suspense and mystery, to organise understanding, to willfully deceive the reader, to manipulate perception, to subvert narrative expectations...
‘I want to write something new, something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and ‘intricately patterned’
The Hour Glass Novel
Introductions, interpretations, conjecture and judgement
Reflection, catharsis, resolution
Home Study Part 2: Read the essay entitled
The ordering of events in “The Great Gatsby”
Half the battle, in terms of success in the exam question, is about knowing how to use the key narrative terms appropriately and effectively. The difficulty is knowing what to use and when.