Could you please tell me why Fitzgerald makes use numbers at times to write dates and letters at other times, like, for instance, in the following excerpts from The Great Gatsby? - Chapter 1: ...

Could you please tell me why Fitzgerald makes use numbers at times to write dates and letters at other times, like, for instance, in the following excerpts from The Great Gatsby?

- Chapter 1: 

-  but the actual founder of my line was my grandfather's brother who came here in fifty-one

- I graduated from New Haven in 1915

- Father agreed to finance me for a year and after various delays I came east, permanently, I thought, in the spring of twenty-two

-Chapter Four:

- “He’s the man who fixed the World’s Series back in 1919.”

-  One October day in nineteen-seventeen

I observed the same thing with numbers of streets.

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Karyth Cara | College Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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This is a very interesting stylistic quirk of Fitzgerald's. He endeavored to innovate many unique stylistic characteristics, like developing original (though sometimes cumbersome) metaphors and images. While there may be different stylistic motivation in different instances, "One October day in nineteen-seventeen" is spoken by Jordan and Fitzgerald's choice of words over numerals is intended to help characterize Jordan: she thinks in terms that are unusual or not exactly like others' terms of thought.

"I've been having lunch with Mr. Gatsby."

I turned toward Mr. Gatsby, but he was no longer there.

One October day in nineteen-seventeen----

(said Jordan Baker that afternoon, sitting up very straight on a straight chair in the tea-garden at the Plaza Hotel)

--I was walking along from one place to another, half on the sidewalks and half on the lawns. I was happier on the lawns because I had on shoes from England with rubber nobs on the soles that bit into the soft ground. ....

Sources:

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