The Use of Flashbacks to Present the Past in Chapter Six of The Great Gatsby, a Novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald
In chapter six of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, flashback is used to complete the presentation of Gatsby by giving details from his past before Daisy came into his life to show what he was like before he was consumed by his love for Daisy. Flashbacks are typically used to give and fill in details about a character’s past to help tell more about them, which was done in this chapter with two different flashbacks. In the first flashback, it was revealed in the chapter that Jay Gatsby’s original name was James Gatz. This was shown when Nick says “James Gatz
That was really, or at least legally, his name”. Gatsby most likely changed his name because he was unhappy with his past and to help leave his past behind, he changed his name. Gatsby was born in North Dakota, and his family was not wealthy. This was evident when it was revealed by Nick that “His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people” Nick also says that “his imagination had never accepted them as parents at all” which means that Gatsby never wanted to accept the fact that he grew up he was poor because he has always wanted to be rich and “old money” which couldn’t happen since he was poor. He decided to change his name when he was seventeen years old when he met Dan Cody. When he met Dan Cody, he decided he would introduce himself as his new persona, Jay Gatsby.
It was clear that the name was going to stay when Nick says “So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end.”. What Gatsby wanted was the American Dream, but once Daisy comes along, his dream becomes something different. In the second flashback, Nick is talking about how Gatsby’s dream became limited once he kissed Daisy because he dreams of bettering himself, and if he ended up with Daisy, then it wouldn’t be about only him anymore. This was apparent when Nick says “Out of the corner of his eye, Gatsby saw that the blocks of the sidewalks really formed a ladder and mounted to a secret place above the trees-he could climb to it, if he climbed alone, and once there he could suck on the pap of life, gulp down the incomparable milk of wonder.”
Nick is trying to say that Gatsby would only be able to achieve his dreams by doing it alone. The two flashbacks help to further define and shape Gatsby’s character because they reveal how Gatsby came to be the person he is at this point in the story, and how his life was before and when Daisy became a part of his life.