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Form, Time and Sight. The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald’s Chapter Structure. Chapter 1 and 2: Dinner party at the Buchanan’s Party with Myrtle and McKees Sustained look at Tom: establish brutality and arrogance Chapter 3 and 4: Gatsby’s first party

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form time and sight

Form, Time and Sight

The Great Gatsby

fitzgerald s chapter structure
Fitzgerald’s Chapter Structure
  • Chapter 1 and 2:
    • Dinner party at the Buchanan’s
    • Party with Myrtle and McKees
    • Sustained look at Tom: establish brutality and arrogance
  • Chapter 3 and 4:
    • Gatsby’s first party
    • Nick’s lunch with Gatsby and Wolfsheim; the background of Gatsby
    • Sustained look at Gatsby: establish the Romantic nature of his dream/vision
  • Nick is the bridge between these two men/worlds
chapter 5 the center
Chapter 5: The Center
  • Infused with time images/references
  • THIS IS IT: when the dream comes as close to incarnation as it is possible to come!
  • Very Romantically symbolic
    • Gatsby/Daisy’s love= magnificence of Gatsby’s house
    • Gatsby’s silk shirts/Daisy crying = symbolic of Gatsby’s fidelity/long-lasting desire and work for Daisy
but the center cannot hold
But the center cannot hold…
  • Romantic aura is merely a façade
  • Grotesque/violent Modernism lurks beneath the surface and threatens to overpower the Romantic core of the novel
  • Events of first 4 chapters are mirrored in the last 4: only this time, the grotesque underbelly becomes more prominent
chapters 6 7
Chapters 6-7
  • Chapter 6: Second Gatsby party is scorned/abhorred by Daisy
    • Glitter turns rancid; drunken parties look tawdry
  • Chapter 7: Second party with Buchanans
    • Confrontation
    • Hollowness of Tom’s moral code
    • Death of Myrtle
chapters 8 9
Chapters 8-9
  • Chapter 8: Gatsby’s death
    • Loss of God
    • Loss of American dream/vision
    • Loss of meaning
  • Chapter 9: Nick’s coda/summary
    • Nick’s look back at Gatsby’s dream
    • Nick’s worry for the future
moral breakdown twice
Moral Breakdown: Twice
  • Pioneer vision of America
    • “I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors' eyes--a fresh, green breast of the new world…for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent”
    • Fresh/green/breast (life-giving) valley of ashes
  • Gatsby’s vision of Daisy
    • “Out of the corner of his eye Gatsby saw that the blocks of the sidewalk really formed a ladder and mounted to a secret place above the trees--he could climb to it, if he climbed alone, and once there he could suck on the pap of life, gulp down the incomparable milk of wonder…Then he kissed her. At his lips' touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.”
    • Possibility of exploration/new life/love adultery/death
why does this breakdown happen we mis see
Why does this breakdown happen???WE “MIS-SEE”
  • Nick sees but doesn’t recognize Jordan Baker at the beginning of the novel
  • Gatsby’s party becomes a drunken blur for Nick
  • Nick fails to recognize Gatsby as his own party
  • Gatsby fails to recognize that Daisy/Tom are similar and that Daisy might not been the idealized woman he imagined
  • Tom fails to see that Daisy is capable of adultery
  • Myrtle “mis-sees” Jordan as Tom’s wife
  • George Wilson sees the eyes of Eckleburg and “mis-sees” them as the eyes of God
  • George Wilson “mis-sees” Gatsby as Myrtle’s lover and so kills the wrong person
fitzgerald shows us that the american dream has been lost because we have mis seen it
Fitzgerald shows us that the American dream has been lost because we have “mis-seen” it
  • We “mis-see” what is important
    • We prize money/materialism/status over morality/belief in God/kindness
    • We praise Modernity/technology over Romantic ideas of transcendence/creativity
  • When we look at the green light, w are envious of the green money, but don’t see the hope for something beyond wealth
  • Nick wants a world “in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever” (6): he wants the ordered world of a beneficent God
    • But we can’t get it: not in a place where Tom lives, where the eyes of God are just eyes on a billboard (yay capitalism and money!), where the corrupt reality overwhelms Romantic possibility