Redefining the Term Hero

Redefining the Term Hero



Redefining the Term Hero

The Champion of English Senior Section


: Shanghai

Name of Winner Winner Winner

: Julia Song

Name of School

: Shanghai No.3 Girls High School sSSchool

Title of Book Read

: The Great Gatsby


: F. Scott Fitzgerald


: Charles Scribner's Sons

Redefining the Term “Hero”

Narrative breaks in The Great Gatsby are important devices in the novel that not only reveal crucial shifts between the past and the present: the most effective narrative breaks in the novel also have an ironic purpose. They illustrate the possibility that it is Nick Carraway, the narrator — and not Jay Gatsby, the protagonist-who is the hero of this novel. Nick is the hero because he is the only one who changes substantially, from a man dreaming of fortune to a man who knows only too well what misery a fortune can bring. Although Nick tends to be symbolized by twilight, representing confusion and ambiguity, it is evident that he has what everyone else around him lacks, personal integrity. Through the most notable narrative breaks in The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald redefines the meaning of a "hero" as a character who fully acknowledges the fact that all things come to an end, realizes the fallacy of the American dream, and changes from an outsider to an insider.
The first important quality of Fitzgerald's new hero is the ability to acknowledge the fact that all things come to an end, shown through Nick's actions in The Great Gatsby. Nick states that ""one night I did hear a material car there...But I didn't investigate. Probably it was some final guest who had been away at the ends of the earth and didn't know that the party was over"". This effectively portrays the idea that all things come to an end because Gatsby's house and his parties are no longer an object of importance to Nick, though they used to be, illustrating him as heroic. It also reveals to us the mocking attitude of Nick towards Gatsby's partygoers because he uses the term ""guest"" sardonically, stating that they ""had been away at the ends of the earth."" As a result, through this, it is evident that Nick thinks Gatsby's guests are people of little consequence, therefore illustrating Nick as the hero because he realizes that all things come to an end where as the partygoers do not. In addition, this quote reveals how Gatsby's actions to not realize that all things come to an end is unheroic because he did not attempt to build a community through his parties which would have been more useful, organizing them just to attract Daisy, never realizing that eventually he will run out of time to do so. Therefore, it is evident that Nick is the hero for realizing this. Later in the chapter, Nick describes that ""most of the big shore places were closed '} now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound"". This passage further illustrates the fact that all things come to an end through the light symbolism. The fact that there arc ""hardly any lights"" reveals that nothing is the same anymore after Gatsby's death. Gatsby worked hard all his life to have a good self-image and become popular in his community, however after his death, everything returned to the way it used to be. As a result, through Nick's observations centered around the narrative breaks, it is evident that lie manifests the first important quality of Fitzgerald's definition of a true hero.

Nick's changing level of investment in the American dream further illustrates to the reader Fitzgerald's new meaning of a "hero." because it reveals the second important quality of his new definition: the ability to realize the fallacy of the American dream. In the beginning of the novel, it is evident that Nick is just like most Americans, yearning and dreaming for that coveted state of endless fortune. As a result, it is not obvious at first that he exhibits the qualities of a true hero since he does not stand out in a unique way. Nick describes “and so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer”. The description of the leaves mirrors that of a fantasy and a dream, conveying the fact that Nick's new life beginning with the summer involves a dream-like goal. Therefore, it is evident that at the beginning of the novel, Nick is just as interested in fulfilling the American dream as his fellow companion Jay Gatsby is. He also later mentions “I was rather literary in college-one year I wrote a series of very solemn and obvious editorials for the Yale News-and now I was going to bring back all such things into my life and become again that most limited of all specialists, the 'well-rounded man’’. This passage further portrays the fact that Nick is originally interested in achieving his version of the American dream since he wants to once again become a "well-rounded man." When Nick starts to see through the American dream, he describes that.

The track curved and now it was going away from the sun, which, as it sank lower, seemed to spread itself in benediction over the vanishing city where she had drawn her breath. He stretched out his hand desperately as if to snatch only a wisp of air, to save a fragment of the spot that she had made lovely for him. But it was all going by too fast now for his blurred eyes and he knew that he had lost that part of it, the freshest and the best, forever.

Through this passage, the fact that Nick is beginning to realize the illusion that is the American dream is portrayed through his description of Gatsby losing his dream of attaining Daisy. Nick accurately conveys the intangibility of Gatsby's dream, implying that he is beginning to believe the possibility that his dream may also be intangible. We see Nick finally abandon the American dream when he is talking to Tom about the recent events that have happened in their community, such as the death of Myrtle. He mentions that "" they were careless people. Tom and Daisy-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"" . Through this quote, the fact that Nick has finally changed and come to realize the illusion of the American dream, no longer yearning and wishing for it like he did in the beginning of the novel, is effectively conveyed because Nick is expressing that he has seen first hand the American dream crumble to pieces and is illustrating the inevitable increasing artificiality that accompanies the process. Through the three distinct stages we see of Nick's level of investment in the American dream concentrated around the narrative breaks. the second important quality of Fitzgerald's "new" hero is effectively revealed, the ability to realize the fallacy of the American dream.

Readers finally get a full sense of Fitzgerald's new definition of the term “hero” through the moonlight symbolism in the narrative breaks, which reveal the third quality of his new hero: the change from an outsider to an insider. In the middle of The Great Gatsby, Nick has been established as a character that tends to narrate from an outsiders perspective. However, in the scenes leading up that point, Nick is at his first party at Gatsby's house, marking the start of his journey to becoming an insider. Immediately, readers see a shift in Nick's character as well as his narration, changing from an outsider's viewpoint to an insider’s, evidently entailing more detail and insight. Nick mentions that ""a wafer of a moon was shining over Gatsby’s house, making the night fine as before"". Moonlight tends to symbolize change, illusion, and dreams effectively illustrating the fact that Nick's thoughts are evolving from an outsider’s to insider’s. Also, the moonlight is shining over Gatsby’s house, substantiating Nick’s change in narrative viewpoint because Nick used to just be Gatsby’s neighbor, but now he is Gatsby’s closest friend. Through the symbolism with the moonlight at the end of the novel, we see that Nick has changed from an outsider to an insider. These passages greatly affect our view of Nick, further establishing him as the hero of this novel because of his evolving insightful narration due to his change from an outsider to an insider, the third important quality of Fitzgerald's hero.

Throughout The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald's definition of Nick as his redefined hero incarnate is effectively conveyed through the most significant narrative breaks. Nick is the hero because he is representative of the three qualities that Fitzgerald uses to redefine the term: the ability to acknowledge the tact that all things come to an end, the ability to realize the fallacy of the American dream, and the ability to change from an outsider to an insider. This is Fitzgerald's critique of society that the true heroes among us are the ones that possess these key attributes. Stereotypically, our society believes heroes to be the ones who are cunning and bold, as well as achieving something that is influentially ""great"" in our society. By redefining the true meaning of a ""hero"". Fitzgerald effectively breaks the stereotypical barriers that are hindering the progress of our society today.


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Redefining the Term Hero


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Redefining the Term Hero



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Redefining the Term Hero