Style is the way a writer connects the duration and flow of sentences, metaphors and figurative expression, explanation, and dialogue, and other types that the writer considers significant. F. Scott Fitzgerald is a well-known twentieth-century writer who employs a variety of unique literary methods to capture the reader’s interest while also bringing forth the meaning of his writing. In The Great Gatsby, he uses descriptions of characters and places, similes to create imagery, repetition, allusion, symbols to help him convey his message, dialogue to create a real-life setting, reflective style, and mainly, his use of point of view and structure (Nicky), who acts as a narrator and a character in the novel. All these with the aim of bringing out the American life in the 1920’s that was characterized by money, love and self-fantasy (the Jazz Age).
First, Fitzgerald uses Nick Carraway as the narrator of the author’s life experience in East Egg. The whole story is seen from the eyes of the narrator – Nick, who also becomes a participant in the story. The author starts the story with an explanation that aids towards notifying the reader about the narrator of the story. He is a man of good manners, honor and humility. This derived from the advice he received from his father (Fitzgerald 5). He views the newly rich inhabitants of West Egg and the old money residents of East Egg with disgust and pity. Although he socialized with them, he was conscious to indulge in their ways of life.
Fitzgerald grew in the world of Ivy Leaguers and people who grew up in poverty who would do anything to gain wealth. The desire to succeed is what led him to move to the East Egg to look for a bond selling job, only to meet and interact with newly rich whose life ends up in disgrace. Fitzgerald uses Nick to tell the American fictional story of the society he grew up in; the post war society in the 1920s that experienced great economic gain, where the rich benefited and people became materialistic. They spend their money in buying consumer goods such as cars, and leisure. Through the book, Fitzgerald tells about his experience with Gatsby, Jordan and Daisy who looked for money in all ways possible for leisure. Through the use of Nick as a narrator, Fitzgerald narrates his own life experience during the Jazz Age. Using Nick brings a sense of realism and brings the reader closer to action, as well as providing today’s reader with a snapshot of how to observe life of America during the 1920s.
Another style used by Fitzgerald is symbolism. His use of symbols drives meaning to the materialistic life people in the East lived. His use of objects developed meaning in portraying the life the newly rich experienced. Cars symbolized the power and speed in which this people wanted to get rich. They are also used to show the misery that comes with living a care free and pleasure oriented life. Myrtle died through a car accident which had been Tom’s plan. Use of colors – the yellow color symbolized wealth, beauty and privilege, as well as destruction and damage as seen towards the end of the novel. Gatsby’s new home symbolized his dream come true; the life of riches. He boasts of his new house to Daisy with the hope of winning her back from Tom. The use of symbols brings a more imaginary perspective that connects us to the real setting of the story.
Fitzgerald uses repetition to describe the society and emphasize on their character. For instance, “Owl eyes leave Gatby’s driveway and ends up in the ditch beside the road” (Fitzgerald 54), and “Myrtle Wilson has her life violently extinguished” (Fitzgerald 138) by a speedy car driven by Daisy is a repetition. Also, Jordan Baker almost hit a man while driving. These describe the careless life of people in the society. A part from careless driving, Fitzgerald uses green color repeatedly to show new hope. To Gatsby, green color represents money and his desire for the American Dream (Fitzgerald 182); that of being rich and wealthy. Fitzgerald describes America as the “fresh, green breast of the world” (Fitzgerald182). Repetition helps the reader to connect among the different characters and happenings in the novel. The author’s use of repetition was to emphasize the true reflection of America during those days of the Jazz Age.
Through the use of descriptive language, Fitzgerald brings a clear picture of the setting in the American society during the 1920s. He describes Tom as having “a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner, two shining arrogant eyes and established dominance over his face” to show a clear picture of Tom’s domineering and powerful personality. He represents the rich men who took advantage of their wealth for leisure. The author as well, vividly describes how people flocked in Gatsby’s compound for partying, to show the nature of life the upper class people in America had adopted; that of total leisure and pleasure.
Fitzgerald uses irony to describe the kind of life Gatsby lived. He lived a good life characterized with money and leisure, only to end up not fulfilling his desire to get Daisy back, and eventually dying at the hand of Myrtle’s husband, Wilson due to his selfless act of accepting the blame of killing Myrtle, who was killed by Daisy. Gatsby demonstrates the enterprising Jazz Ager who worked hard to become rich and responded to the demands of the society. Unfortunately he never lives to enjoy his dreams just like the great depression that later came to strike the stock market of the US in 1929 and the economy came to an economic disgrace.
The Great Gatsby is a novel that reflects life during the Jazz Age. After the World War 1, people indulged in to alcohol even though it had been prohibited constitutionally. People gathered more money and lost their moral sense. The people in the West Egg migrated to East Egg with the aim of gaining more wealth like the narrator in the novel, something that led to collision with the already rich in the society. Tom and Wilson demonstrated those people who had earned wealth long before the 1920s. Wilson ended up killing Gatsby- a newly rich, and as well Tom was happy with that. Through the use of his unique style of writing, Fitzgerald brings a clear picture of the Americans during the 1920s. It also makes it easy for today’s reader to understand the social outcomes that came as a result of effect of economic growth during the 1920s in America.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Simon & Schuter, 1925.