Narratology In The Great Gatsby Essay

1791 words - 7 pages

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby demonstrates what Marie-Laure Ryan, H. Porter Abbott and David Herman state about what narratology should be. These theorists emphasize the importance of conflict, human experience, gaps and consciousness, among many other elements, in order for a story to be considered a narrative. The Great Gatsby shows these elements throughout the book in an essential way. This makes the reader become intrigued and desperate to know what will happen next. The Great Gatsby is unpredictable throughout the use of gaps, consciousness and conflict.
Nick Carraway, Fitzgerald’s narrator, relates Jay Gatsby’s story in a manner that is at once concise and indirect. These two qualities are not at odds with each other; in fact, the more concise one is, the more one must leave out. Matthew J. Bolton points out in his article “A Fragment of Lost Words”: Narrative Ellipses in The Great Gatsby that “[e]very narrative has elisions” (Bolton 190). These elisions are known as gaps within a story. Without gaps, the story will become drawn out, making the readers bored while reading. The objective is to get the readers to desire what is about to happen next. If the reader is not intrigued, the objective will not be reached. Because he himself is so closely involved with the story he tells, Nick has an interest in leaving gaps between his narrative discourse and the “real” story. This is especially true when Daisy, Nick’s cousin, asks Nick about a rumored engagement. To which he responds:
“Of course I knew what they were referring to, but I wasn’t even vaguely engaged. The fact that gossip had published the banns was one of the reasons I had come East. You can’t stop going with an old friend on account of rumors, and on the other hand I had no intention of being rumored into marriage” (Fitzgerald 23).
This shows that Nick has a past life that was secretive since it would not have gotten unraveled if Daisy did not bring it up. This is an example of how a gap works; it takes the reader out of the storyline for just a few seconds to tell another story.
Imagination is something that Fitzgerald shows throughout The Great Gatsby immensely. Nick reacts to events in a story he is living in the moment. Other characters in Gatsby, speak of remembrances, but Nick is in the moment - thinking, breathing, reacting and moving forward as he narrates the story of Jay Gatsby. According Giles Gunn in his article F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Gatsby" and the Imagination of Wonder, “The Great Gatsby is nothing if not an attempt to keep something alive in the face of a certain conviction that it has no possibility of ultimate triumph. What is an issue, of course, is not the survival of Gatsby himself nor even the substance of his vision; the one that is fatally vulnerable, the other hopelessly naïve and corruptible” (Gunn 172). Within imagination is a new story taking place of the one that is actually being told. Also, readers are able to see the different sides of...

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