Foreshadowing and Flashback
Two Writing Techniques That Make Fitzgerald A Great Writer by Jonathan Werne

" 'Suppose you met somebody just as careless as yourself.' 'I hope I never
will,' she [Jordan] answered. 'I hate careless people. That's why I like you.' "
(Fitzgerald, pg. 63) Jordan is explaining to Nick how she is able to drive badly as
long as everyone else drives carefully. This quote represents the writing technique of
foreshadowing, which is being used in one of its finest form. Fitzgerald is
foreshadowing to chapter seven where Daisy kills Myrtle Wilson because of her reckless
driving. Fitzgerald uses foreshadowing to strengthen the plot of his book. In chapter
nine, Nick begins to recall the past and relive his old memories. His must relieve his
lingering thoughts of the past. During the chapter, Nick uses a flashback to tell about
Gatsby's funeral for the readers to know what happen the day Gatsby was shot. Flashback
in The Great Gatsby also helps to give the reader background information about the
characters. In The Great Gatsby, the structure of the novel is influenced by
foreshadowing and flashback.
Fitzgerald utilizes foreshadowing to the best of its ability to help organize
the novel. "Luckily 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. 'I'm sorry about the clock,' he said. 'It's an old clock,' I told him
idiotically." (Fitzgerald, pg. 92) This quote is the first use of foreshadowing which
is in chapter five. It pertains to all of the trouble Gatsby causes as he tries to win
Daisy back. The past is represented by the clock and how Gatsby wants to repeat it with
Daisy. (Eble, pg. 963) This quote foreshadows to the end of the novel when Nick is left
to tell the story of the dreamer whose dreams were corrupted.
(Eble, pg. 963) "they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into
their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and
let other people clean up the mess they had made." (Fitzgerald, pg. 188) In chapter
six, Fitzgerald focuses on the first moment of disillusionment which Gatsby has.
(Magill, pg. 90) " 'Can't repeat the past?' he cried incredulously. 'Why of course you
can!' " (Fitzgerald, pg. 116) This quote is clearly foreshadowing almost the entire
book. It foreshadows Gatsby's attempts to woe Daisy for Tom and tries to make things
the way they were before he left for the army . It also alludes to the fact that he
must be rich and powerful to do that. Overall, it shows that he destroys himself trying
to get Daisy back from Tom Buchanan. In the beginning of chapter eight Fitzgerald
foreshadows the death of Gatsby. "I couldn't sleep all night; a fog-horn was groaning
incessantly on the Sound, and I tossed half sick between grotesque reality and savage
frightening dreams. I heard a taxi go up Gatsby's drive and immediately I jumped out of
bed and began to dress- I felt that I had something to tell him, something to warn him
about and morning would be too late."
(Fitzgerald, pg.154) This quote definitely foreshadows the death of Gatsby.
Fitzgerald also foreshadows Wilson's involvement when his wife died. " 'He murdered
her.' 'It was an accident, George.' Wilson shook his head. His eyes narrowed and his
mouth widened slightly with the ghost of superior 'Hm!' " (Fitzgerald, pg. 166) This
quote clearly tells the readers that George is not going to let the person who he thinks
killed his wife get away with it. Foreshadowing is sparingly displayed though out the
novel and especially in the last chapters.
Flashback is used quite often in The Great Gatsby. Jordan begins to remember
when she met Gatsby with Daisy for the first time and how they were in love. "One
October day in nineteen- seventeen.....The largest of the banners and the largest of the
lawns belonged to Daisy Fay's house. She was just eighteen....His name was Jay Gatsby
and I didn't lay eyes on him again for over four years." (Fitzgerald, pg. 80) As the
reader can clearly see, Jordan begins to