How Multiple Incidents Develop the Plot Line in the Great Gatsby
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F. Scott Fitzgerald brilliantly wrote many novels as well as short stories. One of his best known works is The Great Gatsby. In the novel, the main character Jay Gatsby tries to obtain his lifetime dreams: wealth and Daisy Buchanan. Throughout the story, he works at achieving his goals while overcoming many obstacles. Fitzgeralds plot line relies heavily on accidents, carelessness, and misconceptions, which ultimately reveal the basic themes in the story.
During the book, Fitzgerald is able to create a superior storyline by tying all the events in the story, directly or indirectly, together. Ernest Lockridge notes in his criticisms about the book:
Yet in a triumph of art, Fitzgerald makes even accidents seem unaccidental, he incorporates real disorder within fictional order. He accomplishes this by repetition (in the real world, repetition does not exist): the accident involving Tom and the chambermaid, the reference to both Nick and Jordan baker as bad drivers, the wreck just outside Gatsbys driveway after his party in which, as in Toms accident, a wheel is ripped off, the hit-and-run death of Myrtle Wilson, and finally the accidental conjunction of events which leads to Gatsbys murder and Wilsons suicide.
Fitzgerald is capable of picking an event and referring back to it while still staying on topic. One of these events is accidents. Almost every character is related to an accident that occurs to another character:
You see, when we [Gatsby and Daisy] left New York she was very nervous and she thought it would steady her to drive–and this woman [Myrtle Wilson] rushed out at us just as we were passing a car coming the other way. It all happened in a minute,
but it seemed to me that she wanted to speak to us, thought we were somebody she knew. Well, first Daisy turned away from the woman toward the other car, and then she lost her nerve and turned back. The second my hand reached the wheel I felt shock–it must have killed her instantly.
As one of the main accidents in the story, Fitzgerald connects the death of Myrtle Wilson to Daisy. The connection is completely accidental, because Daisy does not know that Myrtle is her husbands mistress. In this incident, Fitzgerald is able to create irony between the two characters to make one think that it was actually not an accident, when in reality it was.
During the course of the story, it is relevant that some of the characters in the book use careless actions. Unlike Gatsby, Tom and Daisy were born into money, and they never had to work for the luxuries they are able to enjoy. Robert Ornstein states his opinion about Tom and Daisy in one of his articles, “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy, selfish, destructive, and capable of anything except human sympathy” (59). Nick, the narrator, had a similar outlook on the couple, as well, “They are careless people–they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together and let other people clean up the mess they had made” (187). Tom and Daisy are capable of being careless and making mistakes because they have money to back them up. They do dumb things that would normally have bad consequences and are able to act like they have done nothing wrong because of this.
Throughout the whole book misconceptions can be sited, but they are more commonly picked out towards the ending. The death of both Gatsby and Wilson