Extract 1 (from Chapter 1)
One of the reasons the book has become immensely popular is the language and the type of narrative F. Scott Fitzgerald decided to use. The readers always want to believe the narrator, and Nick Carraway is described in a certain way, which addresses this desire at the beginning of the book. Nick comes from a relatively prosperous family from the Midwest, and his upbringing helped him develop a specific approach to the evaluation of personalities. This quality allows for an unbiased type of story that is better perceived by readers. Nick’s impartiality alongside good education and the ability to provide sound judgment helps him deliver the story in a straightforward and trustworthy way. Nick is a grounded and practical person who does not truly understand the vibrant life in the East. The way he perceives certain issues prevents readers from distancing themselves from the actions performed by other characters. Nevertheless, the narrator can still express biased judgments that, at some point, can even be “snobbish”, as he himself puts it. The main themes in this extract are the American Dream (in its 1920s form) and memory and the past, as Nick returns from the East embittered and disillusioned. The author uses mainly allegories, metaphors, flashbacks and even foreshadowing to some extent in this passage to convey the message.
Extract 2 (from Chapter 2)
The passage provides a description of the gloomy Valley of Ashes that is surrounded by numerous dilapidated areas. It used to be a lively place, but now it merely represents the point where the city meets the suburbs. Nick pays special attention to the huge billboard, which depicts the “blue and gigantic” eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. The description of the valley is needed to show a certain type of decay and dissatisfaction that correlated with the general decadence (one of the key themes of the novel) in this part of America. Moreover, the ultimate grayness and the atmosphere as a whole provide a background for George and Myrtle Wilson. The scenery probably explains the sense of complete meaningless of life, which is noted by Tom when he describes George. The desperation which underlies certain behavior patterns of Myrtle can also be driven by the atmosphere of the Valley of Ashes. The author uses multiple epithets and symbols that seem to be allegorical, such as eyes, to describe the gloomy suburbs.
Extract 3 (from Chapter 5)
Nick invites Daisy in an attempt to arrange Gatsby’s reunion with Daisy. When Daisy finally arrives, Gatsby, who initiated the whole undertaking, acts extremely strange. Gatsby’s acting like a young man seems unusual to Nick, and both feel embarrassed. The awkward situation is further exacerbated by the “matter-of-fact” tone which Daisy chooses. Nevertheless, Nick manages to improve the situation, and the atmosphere becomes friendlier during the tea preparations. At some point, Nick realizes that he is no longer needed to support Gatsby and provide a made-up justification for the appointment. Thus, he leaves and even persuades Gatsby to spend time with Daisy in privacy. An hour and a half that the couple has for themselves is enough for Gatsby to regain his usual confidence and even start looking delighted. Love is the key theme that is covered in this passage. The author uses epithets to describe Gatsby’s initial state of mind and appearance and then to contrast it to the cheerfulness which the millionaire radiates after meeting the loved one.
Extract 4 (from Chapter 6)
The passage which describes the real Gatsby’s background is instrumental to the numerous themes underlying the plot. Nick finally reveals the real facts about Gatsby and shares them with readers in detail. Gatsby turns out to be a son of “unsuccessful farm people” that, at some point, got a lucky chance to assist a millionaire Cody who dropped anchor in a dangerous place. James Gatz rapidly transformed into Jay Gatsby while sailing with Cody. Moreover, Gatsby’s teenage fantasies of becoming rich finally began to materialize, as he was granted an opportunity to make up his background and to use his charms to make connections. Nick states that Jay had a Platonic conception of himself, which helped him justify all his desires and the means he used to acquire wealth needed for a bright lifestyle. Fitzgerald uses various literary techniques, such as allegories and ambiguity, to cover memory and the past, one of the themes of his novel. Moreover, these techniques emphasize the mysticism surrounding Gatsby and make him “the Great Gatsby” in the eyes of many. The description resonates with the atmosphere of hedonism, which took over big American cities during the Roaring Twenties.
Extract 5 (from Chapter 7)
The episode in which Tom and Gatsby finally encounter to discuss Gatsby and Daisy’s affair is of major importance. Despite Gatsby’s efforts, it is no longer possible to conceal the truth about their relationship, given that Daisy visits Gatsby often. Moreover, Tom is enraged not only due to his wife’s infidelity, as he learns that he may actually lose his mistress as well. This coincidence infuriates Tom, who decides to show Gatsby his real place in this world. During their conversation, Tom puts emphasis on Gatsby’s background. He argues that a poor child will never find a way to be accepted in high society. Moreover, Tom openly accuses Gatsby of multiple shady schemes and bootlegging. Gatsby does not seem to care about these phrases unless he believes that Daisy can be a part of his dream. However, readers have a chance to realize Daisy’s true nature in several episodes that happen one after another. First, she says that she loves Tom and shows that she intends to stay with him, making her husband laugh in Gatsby’s face. Moreover, her strange behavior and the inability to control emotions finally result in Myrtle’s tragic death. What is more, she flees the scene after doing so. Thus, Gatsby’s dream is entirely ruined by Daisy’s words and actions. Fitzgerald uses numerous epithets, metaphors and juxtaposition in this extract to cover marriage and the American Dream, the key themes of the book.
Extract 6 (from Chapter 7)
Myrtle Wilson’s death and the way it described in the novel allow for a comprehensive understanding of the core of the Roaring Twenties. The author uses multiple epithets, metaphors and symbolism in this extract to cover mortality and wealth, which are both the key themes of the novel. The woman’s body wrapped in blankets, a policeman, a crowd, and the conversation between Tom and George are designed to make a great impression a reader. This episode is not merely a part of the plot, which leads to further actions. It is one of the brightest parts of the whole novel, which brings readers’ attention to one of the key concepts depicted and analyzed in the book. Acquiring wealth, which has become Myrtle’s sole purpose of life, has led to numerous troubles. The increasing amount of money she managed to obtain in various (often controversial) ways brought her neither happiness nor satisfaction. In the 1920s, a luxury car already became central to the definition of a wealthy person, as the make of the car was already strongly associated with social status. Thus, it is not surprising that the author decided that the “death car” should be the cause of Myrtle’s death.
Fitzgerald, F. S. (2012) The Great Gatsby. London: HarperCollins UK.