"The multiple personal histories of Gatsby told by him and narrated by Nick to us is evidence of how history is a construction." Upon explaining the meaning of the question, argue for or against...

"The multiple personal histories of Gatsby told by him and narrated by Nick to us is evidence of how history is a construction." Upon explaining the meaning of the question, argue for or against this statement.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The statement is in reference to the manner in which narratives are detailed and depicted throughout The Great Gatsby.  It is describing how there is really no authoritative notion of the truth.  There is nothing absolute and external, allowing it to be seen as the fundamental source of reality.  The question is whether or not one agrees with this statement.  

In regards to The Great Gatsby, I tend to believe that the statement is accurate.  Fitzgerald constructs identity to be something that is invented and reinvented by the individual.  Gatsby is able to construct himself as one that "sprang from his Platonic conception of himself."  Gatsby is able to develop his own history as a reflection of his own construction.  At the same time, Nick is a part of this construction, for his own feelings and allegiances to Gatsby helps to temper what is the reader's understanding of Gatsby.  The result is a world in which "the truth" is not necessarily absolute.  It is a world in which good is not always rewarded and evil is not always punished.  Infact, the notion of identity construction is one in which mistakes happen and goodness and righteousness are often misplaced in the name of what is convenient and temporal.  Through this, Fitzgerald has been able to show the power of self- construction in terms of its liberating quality and yet, he has been able to also depict the fundamental sadness that can exist within such a condition.  It is for this reason that Nick is able to describe the reality that he sees as "a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy's wing.”

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