"The Great Gatsby": A Critical evaluation of dialogue and narration

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Throughout "The Great Gatsby" there are many different forms of narration and dialogue. Barbara Hochman takes these narrating voices into account in her essay, "Disembodied voices and narrating bodies in 'The Great Gatsby'." Throughout her writing she gives thorough explanations of each of the major characters dialogues and how they relate to one another, as well as focusing on one of the main characters and narrator of the novel, Nick. Dan Coleman also provides sufficient information on dealing with the dialogue of the novel is in essay, "Tuning in to Conversation in the Novel: Gatsby and the Dynamics of Dialogue." Coleman further breaks down the dialogue and addresses the relationship between another two of the novels main characters, Tom and Daisy. The two relate to one another fairly well, agreeing on some of the major points about the novel. There is some disagreement between them though and this, as well as their similarities will be discussed in content that follows.

Hochman begins her writing first, by breaking down the writing style of Fitzgerald. She believes that unlike in his other novels, Fitzgerald takes a more cautious and skeptical approach in "The Great Gatsby". By using the main character Nick as the narrator, Fitzgerald is able to jump in and out of conversation, while having Nick break down each one. Allowing Nick to become involved in conversation provides face-to-face narration and gives the reader another perspective on the development of Nick himself, as well as the characters he is interacting with. Hochman believes this to be true as "Nick's wish to separate voice from body can be related both to his motivation for the his story in writing and to the functions, for Fitzgerald, of employing the figure of Nick as his own primary narrating presence in this book" (4).

"Storytelling voices" is the next thing that Hochman addresses. All throughout the novel Nick is very responsive to the sound of speaking voices, particularly Gatsby and Daisy. On one occasion Nick, Gatsby and Daisy are all in conversation. Gatsby tells Daisy that her "voice is full of money" (4). This sends Nick's mind spinning. This creates a "capacity of wonder" that later shows up in his narrative voice as he elaborates on the relationship of Gatsby and Daisy. (4) On another occasion, Daisy and Nick are in conversation and Daisy's voice is described by Nick as a "wild tonic in the rain" (5). Nick is befuddled by the sound of her voice and in some instances, is left speechless. All of this interpretation and misinterpretation on Nick's part clarifies what kind of narrative point of view he takes. (6)

Although Nick makes a connection with all of the major characters throughout the novel, there is no better connection made than with that of Gatsby. Nick becomes Gatsby's confidant and with this is the change in Nick's emotions, as well as the way he narrates the novel. As Hochman puts it, "Nick is necessarily a listener to and observer of Gatsby before he is a narrator. Before he can tell Gatsby's story, Nick suspends and enters Gatsby's world, accepting his terms of discourse... It is precisely by articulating both his faith and his doubt about Gatsby that Nick becomes a model for the reader in addition to being a writer and storyteller" (9). As Gatsby's mood and character changes throughout the novel so does Nick's view of him, thus affecting the reader's perspective. Gatsby's "radiant and understanding smile" is the sole characteristic about him that allows Nick to fade in and out of his loyalty and love for Gatsby. In the final confrontation between Nick and Gatsby, Nick is left in awe as Gatsby flashes his compassionate smile towards Nick after hearing him say, "You're worth the whole damn bunch put together." This gives both characters complete renewal of faith throughout the rest of the novel and assures Nick's loyalty to Gatsby (11). In another particular instance, Gatsby explains to Nick how he "lived like a young rajah...
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