The Great Gatsby: Movement and Cessation

Pages: 2 (651 words) Published: April 23, 2014
Almost every page of The Great Gatsby describes movement and cessation. As the book begins Gatsby’s heightened sensitivity to life can be “related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away.” Then text is always in motion, and the eye is trained to understand the movement of cars and boats and trains; the orbit of the sun and stars; the movement of the body in expressive grace; and the more subtle movement of objects in our perception as we ourselves are in motion. Motion and stillness will often refer themselves to technology, and their perception is in a special way technological. The language of technology becomes absorbed into Fitzgerald’s tactics. For example, in the opening pages of The Great Gatsby, Nick tries to evaluate his recollections, mixing past and present in a way that suggests their dissociation. He states strong sympathies, and also tenuous speculation. But, as he reaches back into the past to tell his story, he allows himself more than one mode of narration. He will be as coldly objective as the eye of the camera. The first major character nick meet is Tom Buchanan who is suddenly (and literally) embodied through the perspective of the lens. There will be a special kind of perception. What we need to know about him will be provided by visual “objectivity.” Nick has us3 understand Tom without dialogue. But perhaps we do not need dialogue, for this is the age of silent film and it has given us a newly appropriate language. The introduction scene is complex and full of the traces of mechanism. There is first a long pan shot fro the horizon to the lawn of Tom’s house, which runs “toward the front door for a quarter mile.” Tom is seen against the line of bright French windows. But this view of him adds a number of impressions that dialogue and prose description do not convey. It is insistently pictorial. The distances invlve mean something, and complement the glitter of bright gold. Tom’s...
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