Great Gatsby 6


Foreshadowing and Flashback: Two Writing Techniques Repeatedly Used in
The Great Gatsby

In one of the greatest works of the Twentieth Century, "The Great
Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, there are many writing techniques used
throughout the novel. However, the two literary devices that occur in
just about every chapter in the novel are: foreshadowing, and/or
flashback. Immediately in chapter one, upon his arrival in West Egg,
Nick Carroway makes the distinction between Gatsby, whom he loves
because of his dream, and the other characters, who constitute the
"foul dust" that "floated in the wake of his dreams." Nick's
instantaneous scorn for these "Eastern" types for shadows all the way
to the very end of the novel. At the end the novel, after all the
commotion has been caused by these Easterners, Nick refuses to deal
with them any longer. He leaves the East, returns to the Midwest, and,
for the time being at least, withdraws from his involvement with other
people. "Suppose you met somebody just as careless as yourself." "I
hope I never will," she [Jordan] answered. "I hate careless people.
That's why I like you." (pg. 63) Jordan is explaining to Nick how she
is able to drive badly as long as everyone else drives carefully. This
quotation represents the writing technique of foreshadowing, which is
being used in one of its finest form. Fitzgerald is foreshadowing to
chapter seven where Daisy kills Myrtle Wilson because of her reckless
driving. Fitzgerald uses foreshadowing to strengthen the plot of his
book. In The Great Gatsby, the structure of the novel is influenced by
foreshadowing and flashback. Fitzgerald utilizes foreshadowing to the
best of its ability to help organize the novel. "Luckily the clock
took this moment to tilt dangerously at the pressure of his head,
whereupon he turned and caught it with trembling fingers and set it
back in place. 'I'm sorry about the clock,' he said. 'It's an old
clock,' I told him idiotically." (pg. 92) This quotation is the first
use of foreshadowing that is in chapter five. It pertains to all the
trouble Gatsby causes as he tries to win Daisy back. The past is
represented by the clock and how Gatsby wants to repeat it with Daisy.
This quotation foreshadows to the end of the novel when Nick is left to
tell the story of the dreamer whose dreams were corrupted. They
smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their
money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them
together, and let other people clea! n up the mess they had made. In
chapter six, Fitzgerald focuses on the first moment of disillusionment
which Gatsby has. "Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously.
"Why of course you can!" (pg. 116) This quotation is clearly
foreshadowing almost the entire book. It foreshadows Gatsby's attempts
to woe Daisy for Tom and tries to make things the way they were before
he left for the army. It also alludes to the fact that he must be rich
and powerful to do that. Overall, it shows that he destroys himself
trying to get Daisy back from Tom Buchanan. In the beginning of
chapter seven Fitzgerald foreshadows the death of Gatsby. "I couldn't
sleep all night; a fog-horn was groaning incessantly on the Sound, and
I tossed half sick between grotesque reality and savage frightening
dreams. I heard a taxi go up Gatsby's drive and immediately I jumped
out of bed and began too dress- I felt that I had something to tell
him, something to warn him about and morning would be too late."
(pg.154) This quotation definitely foreshadows the death of Gatsby.
Fitzgerald also foreshadows Wilson's involvement when his wife died.
"He murdered her." "It was an accident, George." Wilson shook his
head. His eyes narrowed and his mouth widened slightly with the ghost
of superior 'Hm!' "(pg. 166) This quote clearly tells the readers
that George is not going to let the person who he thinks killed his
wife get away with it. Foreshadowing is sparingly displayed though out
the novel and especially in the last chapters. Flashback is used quite
often in The Great Gatsby. Jordan begins to remember when she met
Gatsby with Daisy for the first time and how they were in love. "One
October day in nineteen- seventeen.....The largest of the banners and
the largest of the lawns belonged to Daisy Fay's house. She was just
eighteen...His name was Jay Gatsby and I didn't lay eyes on him again
for over four years." (pg. 80) As the reader can clearly see, Jordan
begins to narrate about the first and last time that she saw Gatsby
with Daisy that was four years ago. In chapter eight, Nick flashes
back to the night of Myrtle's death and begins to tell the story of
what went on after her death. "Now I want to go back a little and tell
what happened at the garage after we left there the night before." (pg.
163) Nick tells the reader about how Wilson thought he had figured out
who had killed his wife. Nick follows step by step as he walks all the
way to Tom Buchanan's. Nick then describes Wilson killing Gatsby in
the pool and then Wilson killing himself. In chapter nine, another
flashback is told by Nick. Nick recalls the night of Gatsby's death,
and the next day, when all the policemen were at Gatsby's house.
"After two years I remember the rest of that day, and that night and
the next day, only as an endless drill of police and photographers and
newspaper men in and out of Gatsby's front door." (pg.171) Nick then
continues into another flashback where he is trying to get people to
come to Gatsby's funeral. During this flashback Ni! ck finally meets
Gatsby's father, Mr. Gatz, who came to his son's funeral. "Next morning
I sent the butler to New York with a letter to Wolfshiem which asked
for information and urged him to come out on the next train. [for
Gatsby's funeral]...When the butler brought back Wolfshiem's answer I
began to have a feeling of defiance.....The third day that a telegram
signed Henry C. Gatz arrived from a town in Minnesota...It was Gatsby's
father." (pg. 175) In the last sentence of the novel the reader
realizes the story is being told as seen through the eyes of a Dutch
sailor which transports the reader into the past. "Boats against the
current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." (pg. 189) In chapter
nine, Nick begins to recall the past and relive his old memories. His
must relieve his lingering thoughts of the past. During the chapter,
Nick uses a flashback to tell about Gatsby's funeral for the readers to
know what happen the day Gatsby was shot. Flashback in The Great
Gatsby also helps to give the reader background information about the
characters. As one can see, the book came to life through the use of
flashback and foreshadowing. These two main ingredients in this novel
made it possible for the reader to be able to understand Gatsby the way
Fitzgerald does. It also helps one to understand Gatsby's relentless
pursuit his dream. These two elements of the novel were weaved into a
classic novel that was and is read and adored by millions of readers
and students.


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