29th May 2017

Language Features

Fitzgerald has a very poetic way of presenting language. He uses the same devices consistently throughout his writing.

1.Select three passages from the book (about a paragraph or two in length) that we have NOT annotated as a class. Annotate these passages and identify the language features that Fitzgerald uses. Explain the effect of these features and why he may have chosen to use them.        


 In chapter one, when Nick visits the Buchanan’s “palace”, a quote that shows how empty and dull Jordan and Daisy are as early as their introduction to the novel. “The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house. I must have stood for a few moments listening to the whip and snap of the curtains and the groan of a picture on the wall. Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died out about the room, and the curtains and the rugs and the two young women ballooned slowly to the floor.” The language features inside this passage include similes, personification, symbolism, and onomatopoeia.

In the final few words of the novel, when Fitzgerald has Nick explain the morals of the book, the quote is seen as one of the most famous quotes or lines of literature.  “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter -tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… And one fine morning- So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”  The language features inside this passage include symbolism (green light repeated throughout the novel), repetition (year by year), metaphor (we are boats beating on against currents) and a paradox (ceaselessly into the past.

A key moment in the novel is when Daisy’s is being showered with shirts by Gatsby and goes from experiencing immense joy to sobbing. “They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such – such beautiful shirts before. After the house, we were to see the grounds and the swimming pool, and the hydroplane and the mid-summer flowers -but outside Gatsby’s window it began to rain again, so we stood in a row looking at the corrugated surface of the Sound. “If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay,” said Gatsby. “You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock.” The language features used in this passage include mainly symbolism (rain, mist, flowers, shirts, green light and the bay) and a metaphor said by Gatsby that hope is a green light.

  1. Fitzgerald uses many allusions throughout the novel. Select one of these allusions and explain the connection between it and the book.

Bonus: how can you link it to our theme of “illusion”. Bonus: how can you link it to our theme of “illusion”.

“This fella’s a regular Belasco. “ This quote is about owl eyes talking about Gatsby’s library and referencing David Belasco, a theatrical producer known for his set designs being so realistic that the audience believed they were true -illusion). The book homages David Belasco’s theatrical work, specifically alluding to his realistic set designs. David Belasco was an American theatrical producer, impresario, director and playwright in the 1980s to the 1920s. More than 40 motion pictures have been made using his many plays and his influence on American theater has made history. His tragic passing in 1931 left a legacy of realism of his set designs is well remembered. Nick compares David Belasco to Gatsby because Belasco’s set designs are so real, as is Gatsby’s make believe stories about himself. Owl eyes however, in this quote is referencing Gatsby’s recreation of “the Merton College Library” as mentioned later in the quote “As Gatsby closed the door of ‘the Merton College Library’ I could have sworn I heard the owl-eyed man break into ghostly laughter.” The allusion to Belasco is the fact that the library is a “fake” version of a prestigious place links to the person Gatsby has created for himself. The library is full of real books (owl eyes says so in chapter 3) representing the effort that Gatsby is putting into creating himself. The use of real books could also represent the fact that Gatsby honestly believes in his fantasy persona. This alludes to Belasco because Belasco’s set designs were such realistic illusions that the audience were fooled that they were real, the same goes for Gatsby’s library.


Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. Nice job with the anchored balloon analysis! Its a great thought.

    Just to be clear, the purpose of task one is to annotate a section of the text, like we have done on the whiteboard while reading. I want you to get your hands on a copy of the text in PDF form, screenshot two extracts and paste these into a post. From there, annotate this script. If you are unsure how to do this, come and see me.

  2. I love this balloon and anchor stuff. I agree with the idea that the anchor suggests the notion of being tethered and bound – and I also got this impression, via all the imagery surrounding air and the motion of air, that the characters were being described as insubstantial – as if they had no will of their own and were blown in any direction by the drift of the wind. It makes me wonder what the wind might metaphorically represent. Also I wonder if they are also meant to be conferred with the qualities of air – empty, invisible, vacant?

    • Hi, thank you for your feedback, that is a really good point and now thinking about this I can relate the air being vacant to Daisy’s character. We have discussed this as a class and we now can add to our knowledge about the vacancy of air being something associated with Daisy’s character. We already know Daisy’s character by the use of the colour white (being plain and empty colour that is commonly associated with her) and Fitzgerald describing her as having “impersonal eyes being absent of all desire”.
      -Thanks again, Lucas and L1MD

      • I can’t tell you how cool it is to see students engaging in this kind of detailed analysis of classic texts. I thought this post was a masterpiece and couldn’t resist joining in the conversation!


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"Writing gives you freedom to create your own world, your rules, your characters and your imagination"