Annotating and identifying Language Features in passages.

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.

Passage 1:

“He’s a bootlegger,” said the young ladies, moving somewhere between his cocktails and his flowers. “One time he killed a man who had found out that he was nephew to Von Hindenburg and second cousin to the devil. Reach me a rose, honey, and pour me a last drop into that there crystal glass.”

(1) Gatsby’s guests often speak about Gatsby’s past even though no one is really sure who he was. This statement introduces one of the subjects of this chapter: Gatsby’s biography. These “young ladies” are accusing Gatsby of coming to his money illegally.Despite being between “his cocktails and his flowers,” the ladies have no problem criticising the man who is hosting them. In this line Fitzgerald uses irony to make the readers stop and think about what has just been said, or to emphasize a central idea. He would have used this language feature to add to the idea of people being judgmental at that time but still not caring. The ladies accuse and cliticise Gatsby of illegally procuring alcohol, which is outlawed during this time, while at the same time, they have no problem drinking the beverage they had just criticised him for allegedly smuggling.

(2) The rumours about Gatsby are getting more and more wild. Paul von Hindenburg is the German President at this time, so this is just mindless gossip. So, according to the rumours Gatsby is either:
-Kaiser Wilhelm’s cousin
-A German spy
-An American soldier who “killed a man”
-A bootlegger
-Nephew of Von Hindenburg
-Or second cousin to the devil (The “second cousin to the devil” line indicates that most people are just gossiping about Gatsby’s background for the fun of it, but there actually is very little known about him.)

(3) Fitzgerald uses this passage to show the hypocrisy of 1920s high society. The women are slandering Gatsby and putting him down, but apparently aren’t too good to drink his alcohol or enjoy his hospitality. The decadence and immorality of high society during the 1920s is major theme within the novel.

Passage 2:

“He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one, before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel, which lost their folds as they fell and covered the table in many-colored disarray. While we admired he brought more and the soft rich heap mounted higher — shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange, and monograms of Indian blue. Suddenly, with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily.”

(1) In this passage, Gatsby’s shirts represent new life and opportunities for Daisy, and Caraway (Fitzgerald?) lapses into poetry. The alliteration of ‘sheer silk’ and ‘fine flannel’ serves to emphasize the abundance of fabric.Alliteration focuses readers’ attention on a particular section of text. Alliterative sounds create rhythm and mood and can have particular connotations.She realises that she could’ve had this amazing life with Gatsby and compares it to her life with Tom and becomes sad. The shirts are symbolic of nostalgia and Daisy’s past life with Gatsby.

(2) Just as the books in his library are props, in the “play” of Gatsby’s life, his shirts are his costume. He has shirts for any occasion, to fit whichever scene occurs. They represent the scripted aspect of his life, but also the façade behind which Gatsby hides. No one sees the true James Gatz because they are too busy being dazzled and distracted by his “beautiful shirts.”

(3) ‘Stormily’ is an  adverb to describe Daisy’s response to Gatsby, his wealth and the vitality of his life (as symbolised by his fine and colourful shirts). Being reunited with him (and being reminded of his naive dreams?) instigates an emotional storm within her.

Passage 3:

“As I went over to say good-by I saw that the expression of bewilderment had come back into Gatsby’s face, as though a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness. Almost five years! There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams — not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.” 

(1) It is getting awkward again with Daisy. His perfect imagination of the day they would reunite is far off than how it actually is going.Gatsby could be bewildered by his love for Daisy, finally becoming real in the flesh and blood, or it could be revealing the true nature of Gatsby’s feelings. Now that Daisy is with him, she is more real than the Daisy that he’s been building his life up to impress for the last five years. Five years is a long time, and people change, and the Daisy he loved before may not be the same Daisy that is with him now.

(2) The idea of Daisy that Gatsby has been cultivating all these years is an illusion of perfection, of immense “vitality” and life. Daisy may not be living up to the expectations that Gatsby has set for her, expectations that have been built and imagined upon from their love affair from five years ago. It’s possible that Daisy has grown out of the woman that she was then, and isn’t the same girl that Gatsby is so madly in love with.In these five years, Gatsby only knew Daisy through his imagination and memory, so Nick believes that Gatsby built her up to be more than she actually is. Nick suspects there is no way Daisy could live up to Gatsby’s expectations.

(3) On the surface, his love has been intensified by separation, yearning, and illusion; however, it is implied in “beyond everything” that his love has become deathless and surreal, detached from the actual lover. The desperateness in the expressions “decking it out with every bright feather” and “ghostly heart” suggests the dangerous, destructive nature of love.The author is also referring to a typical phenomenon seen in romantic figures: romantic love is very often much more about love as a splendid ideal than the beloved, a particular agent of love. “Creative passion” means that greater passion has been generated with past memories as its raw material.


Respond now!