Aspects of Narrative in Chapter 1 of ‘the Great Gatsby’
The Use of Narrative in Chapter 1 The Great Gatsby is an American novel written by F Scott Fitzgerald. The story is told in a first person narrative from the perspective of Nick Carraway. The narrator, Nick Carraway, begins the novel by commenting on himself: he says that he is very tolerant, and has a tendency to reserve judgment. Carraway comes from a prominent Midwestern family and graduated from Yale; therefore, he fears to be misunderstood by those who have not enjoyed the same advantages. He attempts to understand people on their own terms, rather than holding them up to his own personal standards.
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Nick fought in World War I; after the war, he went through a period of restlessness. He eventually decided to go east, to New York City, in order to learn the bond business. At the novel’s outset, in the summer of 1922, Carraway has just arrived in New York and is living in a part of Long Island known as West Egg. West Egg is home to the nouveau riche (those who have recently made money and lack an established social position). Nick’s house is next door to Gatsby’s enormous, vulgar Gothic mansion.
Fitzgerald establishes Nick Carraway as an impartial narrator; he is not, however, a passive one. Although he is inclined to reserve judgment, he is not entirely forgiving. From the novel’s opening paragraph onward, this will continue create tension in Nick’s narrative. Despite the fact that Gatsby represents all that Nick holds in contempt, Nick cannot help but admire him. The first paragraphs of the book foreshadow the novel’s main themes: the reader realizes that Gatsby presented, and still presents, a challenge to the way in which Nick is accustomed to thinking about the world.
It is clear from the story’s opening moments that Gatsby will not be what he initially appears: despite the vulgarity of his mansion, Nick describes Gatsby’s personality as “gorgeous. ” The novel’s characters are obsessed by class and privilege. Though Nick, like the Buchanans, comes from an elite background, the couple’s relationship to their social position is entirely distinct to the narrator’s. Tom Buchanan vulgarly exploits his status: he is grotesque, completely lacking redeeming features.
His wife describes him as a “big, hulking physical specimen,” and he seems to use his size only to dominate others. He has a trace of “paternal contempt” that instantly inspires hatred. Daisy Buchanan stands in stark contrast to her husband. She is frail and diminutive, and actually labours at being shallow. She laughs at every opportunity. Daisy is utterly transparent, feebly affecting an air of worldliness and cynicism. Though she breezily remarks that everything is in decline, she does so only in order to seem to agree with her husband.
She and Jordan are dressed in white when Nick arrives, and she mentions that they spent a “white girl-hood” together; the purity of Daisy and Jordan stands in ironic contrast to their actual corruption. The first appearance of Gatsby has a religious solemnity, and Gatsby himself seems almost godlike. When the reader first sees Gatsby, he is reaching toward the green light something that, by definition, he cannot grasp. In this scene, Fitzgerald wholly sacrifices realism in favour of drama and symbol: the green light stands for the as-yet-nameless object for which Gatsby is hopelessly striving.