Narrative Structure of “The Great Gatsby”
The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald, with the combination of its form and content, as an ideal work of modern narrative art, fully provides the Fitzgerald’s effort for the improvement of traditional narrative steps and techniques. By using the unique and new narrative techniques the Fitzgerald creates remarkable effects to reinforce the specific creative charm and draw attention to the content concept of novel. This research paper explores the narrative steps and techniques in novel “The Great Gatsby” in terms of “I” as witness, the shift of the author’s position and the transgression to concentrate on the distinct and special techniques.
The novel “The Great Gatsby” is about American dreams. A youngster from the Middle Western American, named as Nick Carrawlly, left home for East American to live. During his wander life, he understands the hero of fiction Gatsby and stares at the complete process of tragedy in Gatsby. This young man uses a specific narrative technique to depict a tragic story of this indigent Middle American Westerner Jay Gatsby.
In the start of novel, we ascertain that people are familiar who Gatsby is, that he lives near to our other characters and that he has a lot of money. We also ascertain a little about the marriage of Daisy and Tom. This is exposition or introduction. Then, we realize that Gatsby and Daisy had an affiliation previously and that intentions of Gatsby in turning back were to triumph back Daisy. He passes through great troubles to organize this. These are examples of rising action.
The conflict or climax arises when the novel’s central character confront a change in authority. Until that point, Gatsby was leisurely gaining power in the persuading of Daisy. The climax appeared in the hotel room when Tom forces Gatsby and Daisy to formulate a decision and she doesn’t formulate a straightforward one. Falling action occurs very quickly in the novel with Tom and Daisy going to home so that they can stay there. Most of the falling action occurs outside to the narration as Tom has an undisclosed conversation with Wilson directing Wilson to head over to the house of Gatsby. The exact determination of this novel is the assassination of central character and the challenge of Daisy and Tom to live together.
The narrative structure of Great Gatsby involves retrospective remembrance of events. The whole story of Gatsby concentrate on Nick’s past memories, writing the first person “I”. Nick is not merely the narrative of the story, but also an important character in the story. He is an eyewitness of numerous events. This narrative technical step is called “‘I’ as witness” (Pilip Sterik 1967:125) in the theory of novel of Pilip Stevik. It turns the story more rational and communicable and makes “ruthless critics and intensified connotive meanings” (Fitzgerald, 1982).
As an ethical criticizer, Nick rather than the author observe all character of the story counting him himself. This step of narrative escalating reality and theme of story turns the story as an essential complete and impenetrable. In this novel, Nike is “both internal and external to the story” (Poupard, 1984, pp.105). Because of his various positions, he is internal to the story. Nick is the neighbor of the central character of story Gatsby; brother of Daisy once detached; classmate of Tom in college and the beloved of Jordan who is Daisy’s close friend. He is a strap, which linkages many disagreements and conflicts between an important figure and characters in the confuse relation are net, being all over and everything. Fitzgerald allows him to use curious sights to view the actions of Gatsby and grasp consideration to suppose thoughts of Gatsby. This makes dissimilar art impacts.
Nike is external to the story because those disagreements and conflicts are no means to him. He can bring a purpose and set a peaceful attitude to achieve them. Through the eyes of Nike, readers perceived everything occurred in the story. Nike provides the glamour and attraction, the deterioration and disgracefulness in the higher class at the front of readers. As an eyewitness who “has solid flexibility and wide and a variety of information” (Sterik, 1967, pp.125), he can examine Gatsby’ actions settled far from him and acquire various information about Gatsby distinctiveness from guesses and conversations of people in the party. He also can observe the depressing sight after the death of Gatsby, which establish a comparison with flashy live of Gatsby throughout his lifetime. This terrible effect cannot be understood by other narrative techniques.
Using “I” as eyewitness to narrate the story, Fitzgerald allows readers realize things in a straight line of story. But as a writer he conceals himself at the back of case. “This unusual method turns down the novel to get an accurate effect” (McMichael, 1984, pp.302). Moreover, using a main character in the story as the story teller and being a first person to tell the story allow readers understanding personally. All of these turn the story more dramatic and persuasive.
Although “I” as eyewitness can carry the persuasive and vivid effect on audience, it has some limitations. The narrator can only explain things which are into his knowledge but cannot highlight the other characters’ minds and wins their thoughts. This prevent the narrator to expose characters’ internal matters depriving readers to understand their’ facts more evidently. Consequently, the narrator must go beyond his narrative perimeter to present things clearly. This fact is called the contravention of the point of view. In “The Great Gatsby,” when Nike has a perception to Gatsby, Tom, Daisy, and other characters in his or other people’ opinion, he has exceed his narrative confines as a first person story teller. There are numerous obvious examples about such transgression.
In conclusion, Fitzgerald is competent and artistic enough to utilize different types of distinct narrative steps to develop the intensity of the novel and concentrate the theme. Through implementing the unique and new narrative viewpoint, he effectively uplifts the novel more appealing and impressive in the fiction of Modern America, even in the Fiction World. The famous opponent, Thomas Stearns Eliot, who is known as his severity on literature principles treasured “The Great Gatsby” as “the primary step after Henry James in American fiction” (Poupard, 1984, pp.149). Such towering comment adequate lights us to identify correctly the literature values in novel and the well-known status in the history of American fiction.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Shanghai: Shanghai Translation Press, 1982.
Poupard, Dennis & James E. Person. Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, 14th volume. Detroit & London: Gale Research Inc, 1984.
Sterik, Pilip. The Theory of the Novel. New York: The Free Press, 1967.
McMichael, George. Anthology of American Literature. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co. Inc., 1980.