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How does the one writer you have studied foreshadow events or ideas to come later in their works, and what is the effect of such foreshadowing?

This was one of the questions which I have been assigned to. I am supposed to answer this question with reference to The Great Gatsby. One of my pointers is this:

Secondly, foreshadowing is also used to allude to us that things are about to turn horribly sour for Gatsby. This literary device was used in chapter 5, during Gatsby’s meeting with Daisy. On the day that Gatsby and Daisy met, it poured heavily. Meanwhile, inside the house, as Gatsby was reclining, “His head leaned back so far that it rested against the face of a defunct mantelpiece clock, and from this position, his distraught eyes stared down at Daisy”. While conversing, “the clock took this moment to tilt dangerously at the pressure of his head, whereupon he turned and caught it with trembling fingers, and set it back in place.” Nick also notes that “I think we all believed for a moment that it had smashed in pieces on the floor.”

This series of events that occur consecutively cleverly alludes to us what is about to happen to Gatsby. Firstly, the rain that was pouring during the meeting set the tone for future events to come. It alluded to us that although things appeared to be going well for Gatsby, trouble was just outside the door. Next, the defunct clock that Gatsby leaned on as he stared down at Daisy also represented his life as a whole. Gatsby was constantly shown to be living in the past, in the love that he and Daisy once had. That is depicted through the broken clock that represented Gatsby’s life being frozen in time. The clock then begins to tilt, almost crashing to the ground. This warns us that this frozen life of Gatsby’s is about to fall apart. Even when Gatsby attempts to put things back together, as shown through him setting the clock back in its place, his life will ultimately fall apart and he might even lose it. This is foreshadowed through the fact that everyone else still believed for a moment, that the clock had smashed to pieces on the floor.

Initially, I felt like this analysis was a bit too hopeful. Like I was drawing conclusions from an otherwise minor event in the story. I just found it weird that Fitzgerald would have chosen to write that bit about the clock tipping over if it had no special meaning to it. So I felt that I had to analyse it.

Is my analysis here too far fetched? Any advice on how it could be otherwise interpreted? Or whether this event in the story should need analysis at all?

  • On a side note, I initially thought that my analysis was rather clever. But my literature teacher called it nonsense and asked if I had rushed my essay the night before its submission date. Just wanted to know how others felt about it. – David Toh Dec 27 '17 at 17:23
  • Tbh I'm not entirely sure what you're looking for in an answer here. Your interpretation seems like a plausible interpretation to me. You're teacher's comments seem harsh. But I'm not really sure what sort of answer would be helpful to you or future readers. What exactly are you looking for in answers? – user111 Dec 27 '17 at 22:20
  • @Hamlet I just wanted to know if the people here feel like this analysis is too far fetched. Because I could use this point in future examinations if it works – David Toh Dec 28 '17 at 2:09
  • i mean, the people on this site might think you're a genius but that won't change how your examiner sees you. – user111 Dec 28 '17 at 2:17
  • @Hamlet my examiner would not be my teacher. by the way i by no means consider myself an adept at literature and i think that the depth of my own analysis is mediocre compared to those who are actually learned it in. I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to literature and i am not trying to come across as though i have. – David Toh Dec 28 '17 at 2:19

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