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Essay/Term paper: The great gatsby: structure of novel influenced by foreshadowing and flashback

Essay, term paper, research paper:  The Great Gatsby

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The Great Gatsby: Structure of Novel Influenced by Foreshadowing and Flashback

" 'Suppose you met somebody just as careless as yourself.' 'I hope I
never will,' she [Jordan] answered. 'I hate careless people. That's why I like
you.' " (Fitzgerald, pg. 63) Jordan is explaining to Nick how she is able to
drive badly as long as everyone else drives carefully. This quote represents
the writing technique of foreshadowing, which is being used in one of its
finest form. Fitzgerald is foreshadowing to chapter seven where Daisy kills
Myrtle Wilson because of her reckless driving. Fitzgerald uses foreshadowing
to strengthen the plot of his book. In chapter nine, Nick begins to recall the
past and relive his old memories. His must relieve his lingering thoughts of
the past. During the chapter, Nick uses a flashback to tell about Gatsby's
funeral for the readers to know what happen the day Gatsby was shot. Flashback
in The Great Gatsby also helps to give the reader background information about
the characters. In The Great Gatsby, the structure of the novel is influenced
by foreshadowing and flashback.
Fitzgerald utilizes foreshadowing to the best of its ability to help
organize the novel. "Luckily the clock took this moment to tilt dangerously at
the pressure of his head, whereupon he turned and caught it with trembling
fingers and set it back in place. 'I'm sorry about the clock,' he said. 'It's
an old clock,' I told him idiotically." (Fitzgerald, pg. 92) This quote is the
first use of foreshadowing which is in chapter five. It pertains to all of the
trouble Gatsby causes as he tries to win Daisy back. The past is represented
by the clock and how Gatsby wants to repeat it with Daisy. (Eble, pg. 963)
This quote foreshadows to the end of the novel when Nick is left to tell the
story of the dreamer whose dreams were corrupted.
(Eble, pg. 963) "they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back
into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them
together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made." (Fitzgerald,
pg. 188) In chapter six, Fitzgerald focuses on the first moment of
disillusionment which Gatsby has. (Magill, pg. 90) " 'Can't repeat the past?'
he cried incredulously. 'Why of course you can!' " (Fitzgerald, pg. 116) This
quote is clearly foreshadowing almost the entire book. It foreshadows
Gatsby's attempts to woe Daisy for Tom and tries to make things the way they
were before he left for the army . It also alludes to the fact that he must be
rich and powerful to do that. Overall, it shows that he destroys himself trying
to get Daisy back from Tom Buchanan. In the beginning of chapter eight
Fitzgerald foreshadows the death of Gatsby. "I couldn't sleep all night; a fog-
horn was groaning incessantly on the Sound, and I tossed half sick between
grotesque reality and savage frightening dreams. I heard a taxi go up Gatsby's
drive and immediately I jumped out of bed and began to dress- I felt that I had
something to tell him, something to warn him about and morning would be too
(Fitzgerald, pg.154) This quote definitely foreshadows the death of Gatsby.
Fitzgerald also foreshadows Wilson's involvement when his wife died. " 'He
murdered her.' 'It was an accident, George.' Wilson shook his head. His eyes
narrowed and his mouth widened slightly with the ghost of superior 'Hm!' "
(Fitzgerald, pg. 166) This quote clearly tells the readers that George is not
going to let the person who he thinks killed his wife get away with it.
Foreshadowing is sparingly displayed though out the novel and especially in the
last chapters.
Flashback is used quite often in The Great Gatsby. Jordan begins to
remember when she met Gatsby with Daisy for the first time and how they were in
love. "One October day in nineteen- seventeen.....The largest of the banners
and the largest of the lawns belonged to Daisy Fay's house. She was just
eighteen....His name was Jay Gatsby and I didn't lay eyes on him again for over
four years." (Fitzgerald, pg. 80) As the reader can clearly see, Jordan begins
to narrate about the first and last time that she saw Gatsby with Daisy which
was four years ago. In chapter eight, Nick flashes back to the night of
Myrtle's death and begins to tell the story of what went on after her death.
"Now I want to go back a little and tell what happened at the garage after we
left there the night before." (Fitzgerald, pg. 163) Nick tells the reader about
how Wilson thought he had figured out who had killed his wife. Nick follows
step by step as he walks all the way to Tom Buchanan's. Nick then describes
Wilson killing Gatsby in the pool and then Wilson killing himself.
In chapter nine, another flashback is told by Nick. Nick recalls the
night of Gatsby's death, and the next day, when all the policemen were at
Gatsby's house. "After two years I remember the rest of that day, and that
night and the next day, only as an endless drill of police and photographers
and newspaper men in and out of Gatsby's front door." (Fitzgerald, pg.171)
Nick then proceeds into another flashback where he is trying to get people to
come to Gatsby's funeral. During this flashback Nick finally meets Gatsby's
father, Mr. Gatz, who came to his son's funeral. "Next morning I sent the
butler to New York with a letter to Wolfshiem which asked for information and
urged him to come out on the next train. [for Gatsby's funeral]...When the
butler brought back Wolfshiem's answer I began to have a feeling of
defiance.....The third day that a telegram signed Henry C. Gatz arrived from a
town in Minnesota...It was Gatsby's father." (Fitzgerald, pg. 175) In the last
sentence of the novel the reader realizes the story is being told as seen
through the eyes of a Dutch sailor which transports the reader into the past.
(Magill, pg. 91) "Boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the
past." (Fitzgerald, pg. 189)
As one can see, the book came to life through the use of flashback and
foreshadowing. These two main ingredients in this novel made it possible for
the reader to be able to understand Gatsby the way Fitzgerald does. It also
helps one to understand Gatsby's relentless pursuit of the American dream.
These two elements of the novel were weaved into a great book that was read and
adored by millions of readers and school students.


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