Kathleen Parkinson places this brilliant and bitter satire on the moral failure of the Jazz Age firmly in the context of Scott Fitzgerald's life and times. She explores the intricate patterns of the novel, its chronology, locations, imagery and use of colour, and how these contribute to a seamless interplay of social comedy and symbolic landscape. She devotes a perceptive chapter to Fitzgerald's controversial portrayal of women and goes on to discuss how the central characters, Gatsby and Nick Carraway, embody and confront the dualism inherent in the American dream.
The Great Gatsby
1. The Great Gatsby: A Novel of the 1920s
The Jazz Age: 'It was borrowed time anyhow'
The post-war mood
The post-war voice
2. A Novel of Intricate Patterns
The organization of The Great Gatsby
The chronology of events preceding 1922 in The Great Gatsby
The summer of 1922: events in the main narrative
1923-4: after the main narrative
A summary of events
The selective use of time as a narrative device
The relationship between the four locations of action
The valley of ashes
Patterns of imagery
Death and ghosts
Imagery of nature:
The golden sun
3. Alernative Worlds
The Buchanans' glittering white palace
Daisy's home in Louisville, Kentucky: the 'white palace' of the 'golden girl'
Gatsby's first party in early summer
The history of Gatsby's house
'Silence had fallen within the house'
Gatsby's last party
The swimming pool
'It was a photograph of the house'
'A huge incoherent failure of a house'
The flat on 158th Street
4. The Women Characters
The woman in white
5. Gatsby and Nick Carraway
Jimmy Gatz/James Gatz/Jay Gatsby/'Mr. Nobody from Nowhere'
An isolated figure
A mysterious and ambivalent figure
Faithful lover and wealthy parvenu
Gatsby and time
The nature of Gatsby's dream
The destruction of Gatsby's dream
Gatsby as victim
Nick's 'journey' of discovery
Nick's role as observer and judge
Nick as active participator
Nick Carraway and Scott Fitzgerald, writers of 'this book'
6. America: History and Myth
The title of the novel
Myth as history
The heirs of Dan Cody: Meyer Wolfshiem and Tom Buchanan
Symbolic landscapes: Midwest and East coast