Narrator's Role in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Kerouac's On The Road

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Narrator's Role in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Kerouac's On The Road

Over the last fifty years, since the release of On The Road in 1957, it has not been uncommon for critics to draw parallels between
Kerouac’s semi-autobiographical novel and Fitzgerald’s The Great
Gatsby, released thirty-two years previously. It is for certain that both the novels share many similar traits, both examine concepts of
American ideals and The American Dream, both are heavily influenced by the jazz age of the time, but nothing binds the novels closer to one another than the authors’ use of the first person narrative and that narrators relationship with their leading character.

It is perhaps the most common reading to see both Jay Gatsby
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Nick is told of Gatsby’s shady underworld connections and unhealthy obsession with a youthful love affair, whilst Sal is aware of Dean’s unstable background which saw him in and out of young offender units as well as knowing that he is one driven by his lust for both sex and drugs. It is left to A. E. Dyson to explain why Nick allows himself to be won over by such a character,

[Nick Caraway’s] conscious moral instinct is to disapprove [of
Gatsby]: but his imagination is fascinated since perhaps here, in this extraordinary man, the romantic promise is at last fulfilled.

With this, Dyson is suggesting that Nick is just far too captivated by
Gatsby and the world surrounding him, everything that makes him
‘great’, to disapprove of him.

Sal’s reaction to Dean is much more straight-forward. It is revealed that Sal has always had an appetite for adventure and he states that it had always been his intention to travel America but has never experienced the guiding force to make him do it, it is easy to see from this why Sal is so mesmerised to his hero, whose enthusiasm not only drives himself but those around him. This is a sentiment picked up on by O. Swartz,

Dean is the novel. Sal could spend his entire life travelling across the country, but without Dean, the travel could not be a transcendence. This is perhaps highlighted by the fact that Dean spends a lot of time driving Sal about the

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