Write about some of the ways Fitzgerald tells the story in Chapter 1 Essay

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Write about some of the ways Fitzgerald tells the story in Chapter 1 In the first chapter of The Great Gatsby, the reader is introduced to the main characters in the novel, including the narrator Nick. It also outlines Nick’s background, including his upbringing and new life in New York’s prestigious West Egg. It is within this chapter that the reader is first introduced to the fundamental themes of the novel, money and ideas of social class, and this sets the tone for the rest of the book. The famous Gatsby is also first characterised in this chapter, along with Daisy and Tom Buchanan and it is here that their relationship is vitally conveyed to the reader. One of the ways in which Fitzgerald tells the story in Chapter 1 is through his use of narrative. Fitzgerald invented the character Nick Carraway to narrate the story therefore Nick is invented to narrate the story in a specific way, to shape and control how the reader perceives certain events and characters. For example, when describing Tom Buchanan one of the first things we are told is that he ‘had been one of the most powerful ends that ever played football at new Haven’. Therefore, we could infer that because Fitzgerald used Nick to highlight this point to us that it is clearly important to how we should view Tom as a character. Fitzgerald continues this throughout the description of Tom, highlighting points such as ‘his family were enormously wealthy’ and ‘he’d brought down string of polo ponies from Lake Forest’. Both these examples clearly suggest that Tom is rich, a characteristic that Fitzgerald made clear to the reader through Nick. As a result, Fitzgerald uses narrative to tell the story, especially when introducing the character.
Fitzgerald also decided to make Nick a character in the story which affects his status as a narrator because he is both and observer and a participant in the story. The reason for this could either be because Fitzgerald wants the story to be presented as a novel about how Jay Gatsby impacted the life of a naïve young man from the Midwest (Nick Carraway) or because it’s Nick’s story about Gatsby. This allows him not only to tell the story in flashback but also to interpret it and makes comments on the characters, themes and actions. Either way, it is a simple literary method used by Fitzgerald to tell the story through the same character but at different points.
Another way in which Fitzgerald tells the story in Chapter 1 is through his use of language. For example, when Nick sets the scene of the area in which he lives, West Egg, he describes Gatsby’s house which is next door to his own, saying that it is a ‘factual imitation’ of a French house. The use of this language could suggest that Gatsby is trying to imitate sophistication by perhaps making a background for himself which links to the theme of self-creation and the American Dream, common themes Fitzgerald uses to tell the story throughout the book as well as in Chapter 1.
Another example of how Fitzgerald uses language to tell the story in Chapter 1 is through the initial description of Tom Buchanan. It immediately gives the reader the impression that he epitomises the confident and rich image of the East Egg aristocracy: ‘Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face’. The appearances of the Buchanan household and its