The Great Gatsby - Chapter 1


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  • Watch NicolasTrendell on Historical Context
  • Read through and make notes on Chapter 1
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  • The Great Gatsby - Chapter 1

    1. 1. Aspects of Narrative The Great Gatsby
    2. 2. Aspects of Narrative • • • • • • Time and Sequence Characters and Characterisation Points of View Voices in texts Scenes and Places Destination Look out for this flagging up Aspects of Narratives All of these aspects work together to form a complete narrative: separating them can help you understand how the narrative works but when it comes to the exam you will be expected to draw on your knowledge of all the aspects, and decide which ones are most relevant in writing about your chosen text.
    3. 3. Aspects of Time  There are two broad aspects of time within any novel or are going to start We writing. 1. The time covered by events in the story. with the time that surrounds the story Writing about how the author manages the time within the story is AO2. 2. The broader time which surrounds the story – the time period in which it is set. Writing about the author manages this aspect of time is AO4. For example: Fitzgerald wrote a kind of love story in The Great Gatesby and the time covered by events in the novel are from when Daisy and Jay meet to Jay’s death. But Fitzgerald also set The Great Gatesby in the 1920’s and so other aspects of time are involved – he incorporates aspects of life in the 1920’s. How the author manages time WITHIN the story is AO2, which looks at aspects of form, structure and language, in this case with a special focus on structure. Meanwhile, how the author manages time that SURROUNDS the story is covered by AO4, which looks at context.
    4. 4. Context Naming the period Listed below are some of the names given to the period between 1918 and 1939 and the generation who became adults during it. Annotate the names with your ideas about what this period might have been like e.g. mood/tone, themes, impressions of the people or of the period. Jazz Age Roaring 20s World War 1 Generation Pre-depression Era Lost Generation Golden Twenties Golden Age of Hollywood Prohibition Era Inter-war La Generation de Feu (Generation of Fire) Bright Young Things The Flapper Era After the gruelling experiences of WW1, the anti-hero was often portrayed as a powerless figure, caught-up in social processes that were rigidly mechanical with no room to prove personal worth. This was called the Lost Generation, characterising an age which seemed to have no sense of historical purpose.
    5. 5. Context The Great Gatsby was published in 1925, in the middle of a decade of hero-worship in America. Newspapers, reaching a larger readership than ever before, were extravagant in celebrating a feat such as Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927, while the careers of screen idols ranging from the romantic Rudolph Valentino to the comic Charlie Chaplin filled the pages of magazines eagerly purchased by Americans hungry for glamorous images.
    6. 6. Context Fitzgerald is renowned as the chronicler of the Jazz Age. He evokes in his stories not the pessimism and sense of powerlessness but the pleasure-seeking spirit of the decade following WW1. His stories were written primarily to entertain, and a few of them suggest that there is a Lost Generation concealed behind the veil of hedonism. Is The Great Gatsby suggestive of a concealed Lost Generation?
    7. 7. Context As he began to write it, Fitzgerald sent a letter to Maxwell Perkins, his editor, saying that he wanted his book to be extraordinary. He was aiming for beauty and simplicity, but at the same time he knew the book would be intricately patterned. It is its intricacy that makes for richness and invites a range of interpretations. On the most straightforward level it can be read as a love story, the tale of a man’s obsessive desire for the woman he has lost and the tragic consequences of that desire. On another level it is a social satire, mocking the follies of contemporary social life, the shallowness, hypocrisy and greed that Fitzgerald recognised in America in the years following WW1.
    8. 8. Alternative Readings American literary critic Lionel Trilling argued in 1945 that Jay Gatsby stands for America itself. It can be read as a mediation on the fate of American ideal in the modern world, a contemplation both of the vision that sustained early European settlements of the New World and the sacrifice of that vision to materialistic values in the course of the nation’s rapid growth. The novel raises the question of what makes a successful nation. Does the success of some in acquiring wealth necessarily disadvantage many others and so create a divided and failed society? Does material prosperity necessarily lead to loss of valuable ideas such as honesty, loyalty and fairness?
    9. 9. Historical Context Key Points Connections with the novel World War 1 Immigration and migration Prohibition The position of Women The consumer Society Look back at the text to select 10 short quotations relating to these contextual areas. Make sure that all of the contextual areas are given relative quotation.
    10. 10. Context What have we learnt? Consider too: •The historical, cultural and literary context of the novel in an age when, as Fitzgerald himself put it, ‘America was going on the greatest, gaudiest spree in history.’ •The context of reading, particularly in light of the 21st-century knowledge about The Great Depression and World War 2.
    11. 11. What kind of book is The Great Gatsby? The Great Gatsby is first and foremost a book about a man writing a book. The relationship of Nick to Gatsby established in this basic fact frames the presentation of all the other relationships between characters in the story.
    12. 12. Exploring the Narrative of The Great Gatsby Learning Objective: How does Fitzgerald tell the story in Chapter 1 of the Great Gatsby? This is what you are asked to do for Section A Question 1 of the exam. It assessed AO2 – form, structure and language. Learning Outcome: To explore Fitzgerald’s use of: Section A Question 2 • Time and Sequence is where you get your AO4 Context in • Characters and Characterisation (with AO1 and 3) • Points of View • Voices in texts • Scenes and Places • Destination Section A Question 2 is assessed on AO1, 3 and 4. Section B is assessed for AO1, 2 and 3 (no 4) and focus is on the Aspects of Narrative.
    13. 13. Introducing Nick ‘The choice of the point(s) of view from which the story is told ... fundamentally affects the ways readers will respond emotionally and morally to the fictional characters and their actions.’ David Lodge: The Art of Fiction, 1994 In The Great Gatsby Fizgerald chooses to use a firstperson narrator. However, this narrator, Nick Carraway, does not set out to tell his own story but that of Jay Gatsby ‘the man who gives his name to this book’ (The Great Gatsby, p8). Nick’s voice is not the same as the author’s voice and Nick’s viewpoint is not the same as Gatsby’s perspective – Nick has survived Gatsby and is able to tell the story of his life, and death, after it has all ended. • What are the possible advantages and disadvantages of the first-person narrator?
    14. 14. Other Voices What are some of the ways in which Fitzgerald overcomes the limitations of the first-person narration? Some of the ways Fitzgerald modifies the first-person voice in order to include stories and events of which Nick has no first-hand experience are: • Recounting dialogue between characters • Direct quotation of another character’s sustained account • Paraphrasing another character’s words • Piecing together fragments of a story into a continuous narrative in Nick’s voice • Speculation about what might have happened • Speculation about what a character might have felt (for example, “he must have felt…”) • Evocations of another character’s consciousness (for example, “he felt”)
    15. 15. Chapter 1 Chapter 1 – the summer of 1922 In Chapter 1 Nick begins his narration of the events of the summer of 1922. We are made aware that this is a retrospective narrative and that there is a gap between the events and Nick’s retelling of them of one to two years (1923 to 1924): ‘When I came back from the East last autumn’ (Chapter 1, p8). We are reminded again of this at several points along the way. Gatsby’s death happens before the beginning of the novel. This gives Gatsby’s death a predetermined quality – it is inescapable. All of the characters’ fates are already decided. • What does this approach reveal about the way in which Fitzgerald chooses to tell the story of Jay Gatsby (and his narrator Nick Carraway). What do you notice? How do you think this might impact on your response to the events and the characters? Remember AO1 is being able to use technical terms when discussing a novel or poem.
    16. 16. Geography and Morality are linked Fitzgerald uses the superficial similarities between the Eggs to emphasise how different they really are – they’re ‘identical in contour’ but dissimilar ‘in every particular except the shape and size’. He also gives each location a different morality, which encourages the reader to make comparisons between them. • Looking at Chapter 1, what does The Midwest represent? Ensure you include evidence. The Midwest is... •Old fashioned and represents family values – the Carraways are a ‘prominent, well-to-do’ ‘clan’ and Nick’s father runs the same hardware business that his Great Uncle set up. •Possibly dishonest under the surface – the ‘founder’ of Nick’s family avoided the Civil War by sending a ‘substitute’ and they all pretend that they’re ‘descended from the Dukes of Buccleuch’.
    17. 17. Geography and Morality are linked •What does East Egg represent? What does West Egg represent? Remember to provide evidence from the text. East Egg is... •Conservative and aristocratic but not as refined as it appears. E.g. Tom is ‘aggressive’ and ‘hulking’, where typically the upper classes should be polite and well-mannered. •Fashionable but fake. Its appealing surface hides unattractive realities – the Buchanans’ marriage isn’t as happy as it seems, and Daisy’s looks and wealth mask a bored, cynical and empty interior. West Egg is... •Home to the new rich who’ve made their own fortunes rather than inheriting money – most of the residents don’t have aristocratic breeding or wealthy family connections (but Nick’s an exception). •Characterised by extravagant displays of wealth that are poor in taste, e.g. Gatsby’s mansion.
    18. 18. The Language • Look at the list of words all taken from the first chapter of the novel. Cluster them in any way that seems interesting to you. One of the things you may have noticed through doing this is while some of the words seem very modern (to do with new technologies, transport, the city, finance and so on) others seem to belong to a much more ‘Romantic’ world. ‘Romanticism’ refers to a movement which emerged at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century. Nicolas Trendell describes Romanticism as: A cultural and artistic movement which valued imagination over intellect, feeling over reason, subjectivity over objectivity conformity, extremism over moderation, ambiguity over clarity, and the quest for transcendence over the respect for limits. •Divide the words into ‘Romantic’ and ‘Modern’
    19. 19. The Language • In pairs, look at the extract you’ve been given. Circle the ‘Romantic’ words and phrases in one colour and those which seem to you more modern in a second colour. Discuss anything you notice about the ways in which language associated with the Romantic and modern is used. • Join up with another pair who looked at the other extract and share your discoveries. What is the effect of the way Fitzgerald uses Romantic and modern language? Watch the Romantic/modern discussion by Nicolas Trendell. • Write a paragraph of notes entitled: Fitzgelald’s Romantic Modernism. You may wish to include: – The use of Romantic and modern rhythms – The suggestion that Fitzgerald may either be using Romantic language to expose ‘the debasement of the modern era’ or using modern imagery to ‘renovate Romantic language’ – How this juxtaposition of the Romantic and modern relates to the story of Jay Gatsby – The relationship between Fitzgerald’s style (the language choices he makes and the rhythm of his prose) and the themes of the novel
    20. 20. Independent Study SECTION A PRACTICE QUESTIONS: • How is the story told in Chapter One of The Great Remember you are being marked on Gatsby? AO2 only on this question AND • Even though Nick claims he’s not judgemental, his presentation of the other characters encourages the reader to make their own judgements about them.’ To what extent do you agree with this statement? Refer to the text in your answer. AO1: being able to write about narrative analytically AO2: being able to deconstruct the text, to look at technical authorial methods AO3: being able to lay bare the possibilities of interpretation AO4: understanding that evidence for your readings is in the relationship between what is in the text itself and what you yourself bring to it. Context is included in the question you just have to look for it. Remember context can be: cultural, modern, autobiographical, historical and its reception too. Remember you are being marked on AO1, 3 and 4 on this question
    21. 21. Chapter 1 • Look at the extracts you’ve been given. Circle the ‘Romantic’ words and phrases in one colour and those which seem to you more modern in a second colour. Note (label/bullet point is fine) anything you notice about the ways in which language associated with the Romantic and modern is used. • What is the effect of the way Fitzgerald uses Romantic and modern language? CHAPTER 1: • Write a one sentence summary • Choose a single quotation to sum up the chapter • What can you say about chapter one and each of the aspects of narrative? – – – – – – Time and Sequence Characters and Characterisation Points of View Voices in texts Scenes and Places Destination Reread chapter 2 and 3 ready for Tuesday’s lesson.