Scott Fitzgerald's, The Great Gatsby, and John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men,.
are two novels that deal with the tragic culmination of the American Dream, personified through respective protagonists. However, these protagonists are perceived very differently as a result of the different narrative perspectives in the respective books. Despite their apparent contrasting nature, both narratives observe a certain form of distance, with the narrator in the Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway, being a peripheral one and the narration of Of Mice and Men being done in third person. However, as Nick Carraway himself is immersed within the story, it makes for a more subjective narrative. The third person narrator in Of Mice and Men, in contrast, is able to maintain a more objective viewpoint throughout by evoking a sense of detachment from the events of the story. These varying forms of narration dictate the way the respective characters are presented and as a result, their connection with the reader. Hence, this essay aims to examine the role of these different narrative perspectives in influencing the development and perception of certain key characters, namely Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men and Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby.
The narrative perspective of the book dictates the word choice and diction that influences the reader's perception of the respective characters. In The Great Gatsby, Nick states at the start of the story that he is "inclined to reserve all judgments," (Fitzgerald, 1) and appears to keep to his word. However, though he never passes a direct judgment on any character, he is still able to insinuate his opinion through the use of his language and word choice. This is especially evident in his description of Gatsby before he met him. Nick states that his invitation to Gatsby's party was "signed Jay Gatsby, in a majestic hand" (Fitzgerald, 53). At this point of time in the story, Nick's impression of Gatsby is one associated with grandeur, mystery and splendor.