Mapping Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby, is one of the popular texts taught from middle school, up until higher education. I myself have encountered the novel twice during my education. My first time reading it was as a junior in Highschool and the second time I read it was during my undergraduate career when I took an American Dream course. The Great Gatsby is a novel about Dreams, but what makes it distinct is that dreams are based on locations. Before I go into the plot of the novel, I would like to paraphrase Franco Moretti in stating that maps help explain the centric composition of a piece of work by presenting it artistically in order for people to understand this composition (39).

When I first read The Great Gatsby in high school, our biggest struggle was differentiating where each location of the novel was, and what each location signifies. The story is told in Nick Carraway’s perspective after everything had occurred, he was reminiscing about it, so that is the first layer of the story. There are many other layers in the story, and each layer explains the relationship of each character with the other, and it holds a specific location. This is why mapping the novel is best when wanting the students to understand the composition of the text.

By mapping the novel, the students will be able to understand how the story starts and where the location is and who starts the story. Nick Carraway starts it. The students will also understand the layer where Nick learns about Daisy and Toms relationship problems at their house, which is another location. This leads to Nick later learning about the third layer which is Toms adultery with Myrtle in the lower east side. Then Nick discovers the layer of the lower east side and the symbols that are there as well as the relationships of the characters amongst one another. There is also the layer of the relationship between Daisy and Jay Gatsby, however their layer for their relationship holds a history of different locations and years, so by mapping it, the students will understand this composition better.

This novel holds many different symbols and fortunately, these symbols are based on the setting of where scenes take place, so by mapping the novel out and perhaps also creating a brief timeline or perhaps a timeline stating the main scenes especially the rising action, the climax, and the conclusion, this will make it easier for students to comprehend. When I first read Gatsby, what made me not appreciate it was that I was confused with the locations and the symbols, however during my undergraduate career I understood it better, but by creating the map that I have created, it helped me remember the key events and the storyline better, so this activity actually helped me appreciate the novel more. (479)

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2 thoughts on “Mapping Gatsby

  1. Personally, I appreciate you using F. Scott Fitzgerald and his work (The Great Gatsby) as I’ve enjoyed his story firstly. Secondly, I find that the example works well for the discussion as Moretti’s example for centric composition with the ‘Village’ uses the same method of spreading its “energy in space” to map these locations out. It’s an effective method in revealing the relationships and backgrounds of the character and thus the story’s connection to them as the plot presents themselves.

  2. I really like how you placed The Great Gatsby into context with the different layers. I think my struggle was figuring out which layer would represent which relationship. Perhaps I understood it as layers within each other. I think a map would help me understand it better as well seeing as certain locations correlate with each relationship developed. I would agree with Vincent in terms of the energy in space to connect the symbols and the characters.

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