The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, was a novel that epitomizes the time in our history known as the roaring twenties. It was a time of great extravagances and frolicsome attitudes. The novel also revealed the darker side of this time with its underlying themes of greed and betrayal on the part of many of the characters. The novel as a whole seems to be a very well thought out piece of literature with little or no flaws. However, if studied a bit harder several defects can be spotted. These include such things as shifts in setting, sequence manipulation, and shifting of narrators.
The setting of a novel is very important to the overall plot. It can help define the mood and can give some aspects of where the story is headed. The majority of the story takes place in “East and West Egg” of Long Island, New York. These locations were where the majority of the main characters lived and interacted with one another. That was until chapter seven of the novel. Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby have been invited to tea at Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s home. This was a very critical portion of the plot due to the increasing pressures Gatsby and Daisy are feeling about their relationship, and when they will tell Tom of their affair. It was very hot and all present were obviously uncomfortable. Suddenly Daisy asked, “Who wants to go to town?”(125). They eventually agree and all go to town. They end up getting a hotel room in downtown New York City which was just as hot if not hotter than where they had already been. Daisy and Gatsby tell Tom of their encounters and then they all decide to go home. Why did this needless act that could have occurred back at the Buchanan’s occur? Its only purpose was to set the stage for the hit and run incident that takes place on the trip home. It was merely an easy, but awkward way to get the characters where Fitsgerald wanted them.
Another flaw in the plot line was that of obvious sequence manipulation. An example of this was when they decided to go to town in chapter seven. Tom, Nick, and Jordan go in Gatsby’s car, and Gatsby and Daisy go in Tom’s. Then on their return they have the same car arrangements. This was very unusual particularly with the circumstances surrounding Gatsby, Tom, and Daisy’s conversation in the hotel room. In a real life situation there would be no way that Tom would have let his wife ride home with the man she was having an affair with. This unrealistic action was performed to put the characters in the right position needed for the confusion of the car accident involving Myrtle Wilson, Tom Buchanan’s mistress. Not to mention that it so happened that Daisy was supposedly driving even though she was severely shaken up by the hotel incident. “She thought it would steady her to drive…”(151); driving is the last thing somebody should do if they are emotionally traumatized.
A similar instance of sequence manipulation has to do with the unusual coincidental nature of certain scenes relation to timing. “A moment later Myrtle rushed out into the dusk, waving her hands and shouting…”(144), this whole scenario of her being able to recognize a speeding car from inside a garage when it was starting to get dark was quite a bit unbelievable. Also, the fact that after recognizing the car she had enough time to run out into the road at exactly the same moment the car was driving by. This incident was seemingly without a great deal of thought. It was a haphazard way of getting the “job” done.
All of the previous flaws can be overlooked for one reason or another, but the largest flaw of all was witnessed in chapter eight and can in no way be ignored. The entire novel, up to this point, was in a first person perspective from Nick Carraway’s point of view. This changed, however, when the story centered around the thoughts and actions of George Wilson (Myrtle’s husband), and everything seemed to be from the point of view of his neighbor Michaelis. For example, in the novel it was stated, “So naturally Michaelis tried to find out what happened, but Wilson wouldn’t say a word…”(144). This was done so the reader could see what happened at a time that Nick could have in no plausible fashion witnessed.
The plot of a novel gives a novel its direction and purpose. It defines the setting, the characters, and the underlying story lines. Any flaws that occur in the plot can severely hurt the overall enjoyment of a novel. Though they did not really hurt the story of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby flaws are present. They include tampering of the setting, certain story sequences, the time line, and of the narration. All of the flaws are placed on purpose, and for the necessity of making things run smoothly.