The Great Gatsby: Narrative devices

‘Modern’ story-telling devices

The narrative techniques of The Great Gatsby are complex but seamless, so shifts are made very skilfully. Several narrative voices are used to create the text, and there are many disruptions to the time sequence, creating an overlapping effect whereby the elements of the story are understood cumulatively. This is particularly used to present the story of Gatsby’s past, told and retold in several versions, some of which corroborate and some of which contradict each other. The overall effect of this is to create uncertainty in the reader. Other important narrative devices, all presented through Nick’s narration, include:

  • telephone calls
  • photographs
  • music
  • letters
  • signs and inscriptions.

All of these add further elements to the story.

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