LitB1 Gatsby Notes

Intended for use on Section A part 1 of the Litb1 exam (How is the story told in chapter...)

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Chapter 1 The Great Gatsby
What happens in this chapter?
The narrative voice of Nick Carraway is introduced, expository
Settings of West Egg and East Egg are introduced
Nick goes to Daisy's for dinner (main characters introduced: Tom, Daisy, Jordan)
Sees Gatsby for the first time, green light motif introduced
Nick's transition from enthrallment to disillusionment tension and yet also commonality between
Tom and Daisy Gatsby's distance from his goal
Form, Language and Characterisation
Metafiction narrative Nick controls how the events of the story are told
Nonlinear narrative: Nick refers to events in the future his relationship with Gatsby and what the
man meant to him yet does not elaborate on any specifics or reveal Gatsby's fate
Nick is characterised as a trustworthy narrator as he says he is `inclined to reserve all
judgements'
o Yet says Gatsby `represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn'
o Signals to the reader that Nick may not be a reliable narrator
o Description of Tom: `he seemed to say `just because I'm stronger and more of a man than
you'
Nick's elevated prose style using complex lexis and sentences such as `most of these
confidences unsought, frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation or a hostile levity when I
realised by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon'
o Objective narrator
Gatsby is referred to twice in conversation but we never learn more, except through the tantalising
glimpse of him at the end of the chapter which establishes a sense of romance and mystery
Tom's physical description
Musical imagery used for Daisy's voice
o Her voice described as `low', `thrilling', a `murmur', rumoured to make `people lean towards
her'
o Siren like quality
The imagery of lightness and innocence surrounding Daisy and Jordan, angelic qualities
o White dress the breeze as `if they had been blown back in after a short flight around the
house'
Daisy mainly speaks in simple sentences, `What do people plan?'
o Innocence and naivety
Similarities in the characterisation of Tom and Daisy
o `a look of defiance'
Tom controlling of Daisy, domineering, possible antagonist
o Change from `buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon' to `ballooned slowly to the
floor'
o Characterised as having `two shining arrogant eyes' and `a hard mouth'
Contrast with the characterisation of Gatsby
o More secure and steadfast through his stance
o `Trembling'
Structure
Intensification of tension as Tom's infidelity and Daisy's unhappiness become apparent
Nick moves from excitement an enthrallment with Daisy to disillusionment with her `basic
insincerity', acting out in microcosm the journey of understanding he undertakes in the rest of the
novel
Narrative Perspective
First person, retrospective narration which begins with reflection and foreshadows tragedy
Nick seems selfconscious and keen to defend his own moral superiority

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All perspectives on characters are focalised through Nick's judgemental perspective
His initial reflections act as a framing device and prejudice us against Daisy, Tom and the world
that they represent
Nick is either established as a moral figure who will guide us on a journey through a dark world
o Or can be perceived as an unreliable narrator who forces events into a moralistic patter (`a
single window')
Setting
Gatsby and Tom's homes both symbolic of the nature of their wealth
o Gatsby's desire to…read more

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Chapter 2 The Great Gatsby
What happens in this chapter?
Valley of Ashes introduced, as well as the symbol of Dr Eckleburg/ Eyes
Tom's violent personality/ Nick dragged to meet Myrtle
Wilson introduced
Tom and Myrtle's party/ apartment in New York
Tom breaks Myrtle's nose
Nick's drunken ambiguity
Form, Language and Characterisation
Further references to Gatsby from Catherine build up the myth that surrounds the character
Nick informs us from the outset that this chapter will be about meeting Tom's mistress
o Arguably prejudices us…read more

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Chapter 3 The Great Gatsby
What happens in this chapter?
Nick invited to Gatsby's party
Gossip surrounding Gatsby creates sense of illusiveness/mystery
Owl Eyes in the library
Meets Gatsby
Return to narrative on everyday life
Form, Language and Characterisation
Dialogue highlights that the guests are obsessed with image and with rumours
o Imagery of moths for the guests
Imagery associated with consumption
o the `ravages' that have to be repaired
o the oranges and lemons that are returned as `pulpless halves'
Imagery and physical details…read more

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He also demonstrates the ability to be selfdeprecating and to admit to his own limitations
The importance to Nick of his sense of connection with Gatsby upon their meeting
Nick's acknowledgement that his own storytelling is creating an illusion for the reader of the
importance of all the events related so far
We learn about his lack of carelessness (in Jordan's etes) and interior rules
o Which might draw attention to the deliberately constructed nature of his narration
Nick's aesthetic obsession, attention to detail and…read more

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Chapter 4 The Great Gatsby
What happens in this chapter?
List of people attending Gatsby's parties
Gatsby's partial life history dialogue with Gatsby
Lunch with Wolfsheim, bumps into Tom
Jordan's narrative about how Gatsby and Daisy know each other
Form, Language and Characterisation
Opening line of the chapter juxtaposes the church bells and the `mistresses', emphasising that
immorality is universal
Dialogue between Gatsby's guests shows their obsession with gossip
The disintegrating railway timetable symbolises the guests' ultimate insignificance, at least in
Nick's eyes
o Relates…read more

Page 7

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Jordan as `she'd never do anything that wasn't right' juxtaposed with how Nick defines her as
`incurable dishonest'
o Sets Gatsby's character apart from Nick's
o Involves intrusive retrospect
Structure
3 parts: ludicrous sounding guests at Gatsby's parties Nick's trip to NY with Gatsby Jordan's
perspective
o Slows the pace of the novel and builds excitement and tension as the reader is slowly told
pieces of Gatsby's story
Nick is initially somewhat disillusioned with Gatsby, who has `little to say' and is dismissed as not…read more

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Page 9

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Nick less concerned that Gatsby's offer of business seems illegitimate than that it is being
offered out of a sense of duty
o Inconsistent: chapter 1 explains that his tolerance has a limit, however in this chapter he
also characterises Nick as having a limit to his morality
o Nick's disgust for the hedonistic behaviour of the east have been overturned by his
fascination with it
Questions whether Nick has become part of the society he claims he has such distaste for, `a
sense of…read more

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Daisy took the brush with delight and smoothed her hair
Setting
Gatsby's house `blazing with light', Nick feared his house was `on fire'
o Imagery of artificial light vs natural light
o House represents Gatsby's `blazing' love for Daisy, a way of attracting her
o Later, Gatsby is presented to have `literally glowed' and the room fills with `twinkle bars of
sunshine' contrasts with artificial light
Gatsby and Nick characterised by their lawns
o Gatsby's neatly mown `expanse' of grass meets Nick's `ragged lawn'
o…read more

Comments

n

good stuff

Milly786

Pretty good :)

alanyawilson

Thank youuuuu!

LiamSpence8256

This is really helpful, Thanks. 10/10 will recommend to the rest of my English Literature class. 

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