[Not] For Technophobes

         a qwriting.qc.cuny.edu blog

November 19, 2010

Noise and Silence in The Great Gatsby

Filed under: Uncategorized — E. A. @ 7:11 pm

The characters Nick, Daisy, Tom and Jay/James are revealed near the middle of the novel to have come from the Midwest/South. Disregarding their differing affluence I chose instead to make note of the descriptions of their homes and hometowns. All of these major characters come from small rural/suburb areas; Jay from a impoverished farm, Daisy from a big country house and similar surroundings for Nick and Tom. What is the significance? Well, now factoring in the economic standing of these characters the reader can infer what they lived near. Since Nick, Tom and Daisy were from affluent families it is not likely that they lived near noisy train stations and bus depots. As for jay, there might have been a rail road in sight on his father’s farm but for this argument’s sake let us say that it was not close enough for it’s noise to become a huge factor in Jay’s perception of his home.

Looking at The Great Gatsby techno-critically I find that the characterization of the (earlier) LIRR and it’s noise make for a great element in the text. East Egg and West Egg, in their respective ‘silences’ symbolize an aspect of the hometowns that these characters might not be able to break away from. When driving in Gatsby’s car, the group has to ride alongside the train and there is an intense moment of suspense and yet still a sense of rushing headlong into an uncontrollable situation, because much like the train the personal issues will continue to rush forward until they reach their final stop. The train, therefore, can be seen as a technological representation of the novel’s plot.

Then there is the silence. Because the noise in the novel is central, in my opinion, towards driving the plot; therefore, the silences are moments in the novel when these characters can return to their hometowns (mentally) and be unable to drift off into a new mode of life. Technology has mapped out the lives and thus tortures the characters with events they feel they cannot control.


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