Narrator's Role in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Kerouac's On The Road

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Narrator's Role in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Kerouac's On The Road Over the last fifty years, since the release of On The Road in 1957, it has not been uncommon for critics to draw parallels between Kerouac’s semi-autobiographical novel and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, released thirty-two years previously. It is for certain that both the novels share many similar traits, both examine concepts of American ideals and The American Dream, both are heavily influenced by the jazz age of the time, but nothing binds the novels closer to one another than the authors’ use of the first person narrative and that narrators relationship with their leading character. It is perhaps the most common reading to see both Jay Gatsby and Dean Moriarty awarded iconic status by their corresponding narrators. The connotations concerning the epithet found in the very centre of Fitzgerald’s title alone can bring an image to the reader’s mind of one of history’s great leaders, putting Gatsby in league with characters such as Alexander the Great, Catherine the Great, Peter the Great and Frederick the Great. It would seem obvious from the title that Gatsby is one beheld with admiration and respect by the narrator. The relationship between Kerouac’s Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty is often viewed in much the same light. The importance of Dean to Sal is visible from his very first paragraph, where he states that, “the coming of Dean Moriarty began the part of my life you could call my life on the road”. Within a short time period, Sal allows his life to be turned in a completely different direction by someone who is basically a stranger. This willingness to uproot and follow somebody else’s lifestyle pays a great complim... ... middle of paper ... ... with the door flapping, and roar off to the next available spot, arc, pop in, brake, out, run. It would be easy to substitute the car in this instance with a woman to come up with a justifiable description of Dean’s attitude towards women. Just in the way Sal admires and enthuses about his car-parking abilities, describing him as, “…the most fantastic parking-lot attendant in the world…” Sal admirers and enthuses about his sex life. In 1991, Eagleton published an essay with a Marxist sentiment declaring that, much like Nick, “Sal is suffering from ideology – a false consciousness that is imposed on them by the hegemonic social order”. This adds to the link between the two narrators concerning their feelings towards their leading characters; in particular the manner in which they both admire the achievements made by Gatsby or Dean in their love lives.

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