What is the rhythm and the style of writing in The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald?

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lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Fitzgerald tells the story of Jay Gatsby through a first person narrator, Nick Carraway. The story is told in flashbacks, and there are flashbacks within flashbacks (i.e. about Gatsby’s past life), but the chronological order of the timeline is not as important as Nick’s moral observations and assessments of the people and events of the Jazz Age whom Fitzgerald is criticizing for their values. The novel’s style is realistic, therefore, because of the first person narrative. Nick is an eyewitness of the events and the reader believes that what has happened is the truth. Also, through Nick, readers get a glimpse of Fitzgerald’s own views – “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy.......”

The novel’s writing style is strong. The sentences are tightly written, yet contain elements of poetic style. There is a great deal of imagery and symbolism (East and West Egg, lights vs dark imagery, cool vs hot imagery, strength vs weakness imagery, etc.). There is also satire (especially when describing Tom Buchanan and Jordan Baker – i.e. Jordan is always “balancing something on her nose” – her precarious position, perhaps?) They rhythm is fast-paced. There are only 9 chapters and the action moves along quickly. There are not a ton of pages devoted to lengthy descriptions. It is almost journalistic in style.

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The Great Gatsby

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