Method of narration is the writer’s crucial tool in conveying his story and with it his characters and message. In ‘The Great Gatsby’, F Scott Fitzgerald deploys this tool effectively to tell the tale of Jay Gatsby, a self-made man on a quest to find and win back the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan, through the eyes of Nick Carraway. As well as reflecting on the dreams and tragedy of that summer in Long Island, Nick’s narration gives us essential insight into the characters and key issues that Fitzgerald addresses.Most importantly to the readership, Nick comes across as a narrator you can trust.
Opening statement ‘I’m inclined to reserve all judgements’.Father’s advise about criticizing people ‘people… haven’t had the advantages you’ve had’ Amusing story of pretending to be asleep so people don’t tell him secrets.
Awareness of human nature to condemn others and consciously works against it. Suggests will give people a chance. Last anecdote suggests that he was an unwilling participant in the events of the summer – he didn’t have anything invested therefore, though not unbiased, is objective as anyone can be. Reader trusts him.
Fitzgerald’s use of a first person narrator cleverly lends a vividness and immediacy to the key incidents of the novel as Nick is there experiencing them.
Myrtle’s death – gives gruesome details ‘her left breast was swinging loose like a flap’.Reunion scene in chapter 5 – relates details of weather which track Gatsby’s mood, from ‘damp mist’ to shining sun, as he despairs then rejoices as he meets Daisy again.Party in chapter 3 – present tenseArgument in Chapter 7 – reality of dialogue as Daisy confesses to loving both men
Conveys the mood of the scene and manipulate reader’s …
…a still snapshot then points out the implication and consequences of what has happened.Also allows him to see the bigger picture – to admire Gatsby what he represented, the American Dream, and to appreciate the cruel nature of life: a future we can never quite attain and a past we can never quite recapture.
As well as being our eyes and ears, Nick Carraway is character in his own right who is crucial to the shape and outcome of Gatsby’s story. His ‘honest’ and reflective narration give us a unique insight into the decadent 1920’s, urging the reader to “borrow” his hindsight and appreciate the significance of events as they happen. A chameleon, Nick has the capacity to both judge and empathise, seeming to knowing inherently when each is appropriate. Ultimately, Nick Carraway movingly narrates the romantic, if tragic, story of a man who dreamed and loved and lost.