What is the effect of Fitzgerald's use of these loose/cumulative sentences in The Great Gatsby?We walked through a high hallway into a bright rose-colored space, fragilely bound into the house by...

What is the effect of Fitzgerald's use of these loose/cumulative sentences in The Great Gatsby?

We walked through a high hallway into a bright rose-colored space, fragilely bound into the house by French windows at either end. The windows were ajar and gleaming white against the fresh grass outside that seemed to grow a littlt way into the house. A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding cake of the ceiling-and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea.

The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house. I must have stood for a few moments listening to the whip and snap of the curtains and the groan of a picture on the wall. Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died out about the room and the curtains and rugs and the two young women ballooned slowly to the floor

Asked on by yangfree

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I've been rereading your question about the passage you quote from The Great Gatsby for the last 24 hours, trying to figure out the answer for you.  I'm not at all sure I've figured it out, but since no one has answered it yet, I decided to take a try at it. 

I think the sentences leading up to the final sentence create a soothing effect.  The images are presented in long, slow sentences that create the effect of a lull.  This mirrors Nick's pause as he listens.  The sentences seem to roll, like the sea that is mentioned, perhaps.  Contrast these sentences with short, simple sentences.  I cannot imagine the same effect being created here by short sentences.

The effect of the sentence structure changes in the last sentence, however.  To reinforce the "boom" of Tom's closing the window, the writer must destroy the illusion quickly, abruptly.  He manages this by compacting numerous details into the one sentence, the most important of which are the falling of the curtains, the rugs, and the two women.  The lull is over.  The more compact the destruction of the illusion, the more abrupt it seems, and the more Tom is revealed as the novel's destroyer of illusions. 

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