The Great Gatsby – 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.

1 – “This is the valley of ashes – a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat (simile) into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens (alliteration); where ashes take forms of houses and chimneys (metaphors) and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of ash-grey men, who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.”                                        

2 – “Appalled by its raw vigour that chafed (personification) under the old euphemisms and by the too obtrusive fate that herded (personification) its inhabitants along a short-cut from nothing to nothing.” 

3 – “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us (represents Gatsby’s hopes that slowly fades away). It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further… And one fine morning – So we beat on, boats against the current (metaphor), borne back (alliteration) ceaselessly in the past.”

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

“Meyer Wolfsheim? No, he’s a gambler.” Gatsby hesitated, then added, coolly: “He’s the man who fixed the World’s Series in 1919.”

This is an alluding to the actual event of major league baseball that happened in the USA. The event was a true story and was an actual huge scandal in America at the time. This allusion is used to show that Wolfsheim is a very smart man with a lot of power to be able to do that. It is to emphasise his characters position in society.


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