The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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what are some literary techniques used in chapter 5 of the great Gatsby?

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Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Nick Carraway, the narrator, uses a simile when he tells his neighbor, Jay Gatsby, "Your place looks like the World's Fair." A simile is a comparison of two unalike things using like or as. Nick is commenting on the sheer amount of light coming from Gatsby's house—for a moment, he'd actually been nervous that his own house was on fire because the light was so intense.

Later, when describing the humongous quantity of flowers sent over by Gatsby in advance of the tea with Daisy, Nick says, "at two o'clock a greenhouse arrived from Gatsby's." This is an example of hyperbole, an exaggeration of the truth that serves to emphasize the truth. Of course, Gatsby didn't send over an entire greenhouse of flowers, but the massive amount he did send must seem somewhat ridiculous, especially in Nick's much smaller home. However, this gesture also allows us to see how very anxious he is to impress Daisy.

Nick uses two more similes to describe Gatsby's appearance after Daisy arrives. Gatsby sneaks out of the house while Nick lets Daisy in so that he can casually knock at the door and make it look as if this whole meeting weren't planned. Nick says that Gatsby looks "pale as death, with his hands plunged like weights in his coat pockets." The poor guy is so anxious and miserable and nervous that his face has lost all color, and he's got his poor anxiety-ridden hands shoved as deep into his pockets as possible.

Moreover, Nick's clock seems symbolic of Gatsby's desire to stop time, to relive the past. Nick describes the clock as "defunct" and "old," so it seems that it doesn't actually work anymore: Gatsby nearly knocks it off Nick's mantel, but he catches it before it hits the floor. He may desire to stop time, to rewind the clock, but it will ultimately prove impossible.

Further, Fitzgerald seems to use the weather to symbolize Gatsby's emotional state. It pours while he is anxious and miserable and feeling low, and then it clears up and the sun comes out after he's spoken openly with Daisy. Nick says, "He literally glowed; without a word or a gesture of exultation a new well-being radiated from him and filled the little room." The first phrase in this quotation could also be considered hyperbole.

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