Posted by Andrea on .
The Great Gatsby
Mortality is something we will all face at some point in our life. However, I doubt many people will deal with it in the same light as James Gatz did. He died once in his youth, at the age of seventeen, only to be reborn again as someone entirely new and different. By becoming someone else, a part of him had to die. Another death we see in this passage of the story is that an old friend of Gatsby dies. Dan Cody was partially responsible for the death of James Gatz and for the birth of Jay Gatsby. Two brutal murders and a suicide also occur during this frightful story. Francis Scott Fitzgerald used many rhetorical devices in this section of the story, many of which you may not initially notice. Premature mortality is a common theme found in the Great Gatsby; the death of Dan Cody and the doing away of James Gatz, as well as the death of Myrtle, Gatsby and Wilson are made evident and poignant with the use of many rhetorical devices.
James Gatz was a poor boy of a farmer who had many dreams for his life. James worked many hard and taxing jobs and was paid only enough to feed himself with. Therefore, young Gatsby was not satisfied with the way things were going in his life. “But his heart was a constant, turbulent riot. The most grotesque and fantastic conceits haunted him in his bed at night. A universe of ineffable gaudiness spun itself out in his brain while the clock ticked on the wash-stand and the moon soaked with wet light his tangled clothes upon the floor.” This passage shows the rhetorical device of metaphor and personification. The metaphor is seen here, “But his heat was a constant, turbulent riot.” This comparison, or metaphor, helps us visualize how unhappy Gatz is, and that inside his heart he is in despair. The personification; “The mot grotesque and fantastic conceit haunted him in his bed at night.” We know that since these thigns can’t literally haunt him, it can be deducted that James was having nightmare. We see that James Gatz is unhappy, which leads him to make a choice that changes the course of his life forever.
While working, James meets a man known as Dan Cody. “Then he drifted back to Lake Superior, and he was still searching for something to do on the day that Dan Cody's yacht dropped anchor in the shallows along shore.” This is the moment in his life when he sees Dan Cody for the first time. Dan Cody becomes a very significant part in James’s life. He plays a big role in the death of James Gatz and the birth of Jay Gatsby. “He was employed in a vague personal capacity--while he remained with Cody he was in turn steward, mate, skipper, secretary, and even jailor, for Dan Cody sober knew what lavish doings Dan Cody drunk might soon be about and he provided for such contingencies by reposing more and more trust in Gatsby. The arrangement lasted five years during which the boat went three times around the continent. It might have lasted indefinitely except for the fact that Ella Kaye came on board one night in Boston and a week later Dan Cody inhospitably died.” A rhetorical device in this section is sarcasm, which was used when “Dan Cody inhospitably died”. Dan Cody probably didn’t want to die, yet the fact that he did is still inhospitable. His early death follows the theme of premature mortality. His death also had an impact on James Gatz. Fitzgerald uses this scenario to set up the next part of his story where James becomes Jay. It was at this point that James met the beautiful and wealthy Daisy and became not James Gatz but Jay Gatsby. Also, it was this same time that he pushed self-improvement and left for war.
Myrtle Wilson’s death was another instance of premature mortality. Her death was an accident, as she happened to be killed by her lover’s wife. “The "death car" as the newspapers called it, didn't stop; it came out of the gathering darkness, wavered tragically for a moment and then disappeared around the next bend.” The rhetorical device in this quote is personification and it addresses the car that caused Myrtle’s untimely death. By phrasing it this way, Fitzgerald gives the readers a clear visual of the car and how it was seen by witnesses of the crime. Another instance of rhetorical device is, “Her life violently extinguished, knelt in the road and mingled her thick, dark blood with the dust.” This section of the story is right after Myrtle was struck by the vehicle, and now she lies dead in the road. “Her life violently extinguished.” Is a hyperbaton, and Fitzgerald uses this device quite often throughout the book. This type of rhetorical device is easy to over look. In this particular instance the rhetorical device is being used to describe Myrtle’s premature death.
Lastly, the occurrence of Gatsby’s final death follows the theme of premature mortality. “There was a faint, barely perceptible movement of the water as the fresh flow from one end urged its way toward the drain at the other. With little ripples that were hardly the shadows of waves, the laden mattress moved irregularly down the pool. A small gust of wind that scarcely corrugated the surface was enough to disturb its accidental course with its accidental burden. The touch of a cluster of leaves revolved it slowly, tracing, like the leg of compass, a thin red circle in the water. It was after we started with Gatsby toward the house that the gardener saw Wilson's body a little way off in the grass, and the holocaust was complete.” There are many rhetorical devices in this small passage. “As the fresh flow from one end urged its way toward the drain at the other.” Is a personification since it makes it seem as though the water is making itself move. “The touch of a cluster of leaves revolved it slowly, tracing, like the leg of a compass, a thin red circle in the water.” Here in this section of writing a simile is used. Wilson’s body was not seen till their way back into the house, but he is another person who died before their time. He killed himself after murdering Gatsby, and this is how the holocaust was complete.
In conclusion, premature mortality is a theme seen quite often throughout the story and without the use of rhetorical devices readers could not get the full effect the story gives. The death of Dan Cody set up the string of events that affected the characters all throughout the book, many of whom never knew him. With the metaphorical death of James Gatz and the rebirth of Jay Gatz this is one instance of premature death. Myrtle Wilson’s death was an accident. Her death led to the murder of Gatsby and the suicide of her husband. Many of the rhetorical devices Fitzgerald used gave readers a clear visual of what was happened. Many of the devices he used had descriptive words in them; therefore it made the readers feel as though they were actually there. Premature mortality is a common theme found in the Great Gatsby; the death of Dan Cody and the doing away of James Gatz, as well as the death of Myrtle, Gatsby and Wilson are made evident and poignant with the use of many rhetorical devices.