Time and Sequence in 'The Great Gatsby'

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  • Drunkeness
    • Time and Sequence in The Great Gatsby
      • Storytelling
        • The Great Gatsby is a retrospective; Nick is retelling past events.
          • "I came to the east...in the spring of twenty-two."
          • "I had just left a country of wide lawns and friendly trees."
        • The story is prey to his clouded judgement.
          • "Only Gatsby..was exempt from my reaction."
          • "[Tom's] shining, arrogant eyes."
        • When nick isn't there, we don't know what's going on.
          • "I went in... and every vestige of embarassme-nt was gone."
          • "I walked out the back way... and ran for a huge black knotted tree."
      • Non-chronological
        • The story in not told in chronological order to create an air of mystery around Gatsby's true nature.
          • We don't find out that Gatsby is "Jay Gatz from North Dakota" until chapter five
          • Even though we find out about "Jay Gatz" in chapter five, it doesn't actually happen until after Myrtle is killed - chapter eight.
            • Does Fitzgerald do this so that we know the true nature of Gatsby - the one that generates sympathy for the man - before we find out the harm he he has caused? So he can remain honorable in out minds?
      • Time Setiing
        • The Story is set in the 1920s during the prohibition
          • "The spring of twenty-two."
          • "[He] sold grain alcohol over the counter."
    • When Nick gets drunk his idea of time is distorted
      • "it was nine o'clock - almost immediately afterward I looked at my watch and found it was ten."
      • "Some time toward midnight."
    • He has gaps in his memory - we lose parts of the story
      • "People disappeared, reappeared..."
      • "Then there were bloody towels upon the bathroom floor."
      • "Then I was lying half-asleep in the cold lower level of the Pennsylvania Station."
      • "...I was standing beside his bed and he was sitting up between the sheets."


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