The Great Gatsby

Role of Narration in The Great Gatsby

Renowned author F. Scott Fitzgerald became "the most famous chronicler of 1920s America, an era that he dubbed 'the Jazz Age.'" (Phillips 1). His fame grew in part from his widely published short stories, and also from the art of his novel, The Great Gatsby. Although the central character of the novel is Jay Gatsby, Gatsby does not tell his story himself, nor does an omniscient narrator. Fitzgerald uses Nick Carraway, who appears to be an innocent bystander chronicling the events of Gatsby's summer, to play an integral role in the narrative. Although he is essentially a minor character, Carraway's unique role as narrator and confidante establishes the mood, develops rounder characters, and illuminates the novel's themes.

Fitzgerald's daring choice to speak through Carraway, a character that is within, yet distanced from the main story provides a powerful mechanism for establishing the mood for The Great Gatsby. In the opening pages of the novel, as Carraway struggles to establish his credibility, he informs the reader that he is "inclined to reserve all judgments" (Fitzgerald 1). However, the reader soon learns that the opposite is true: Carraway scarcely hesitates in unleashing harsh...

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