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Alvarez’ “In the Time of the Butterflies” & Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” Essay

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Updated: Oct 11th, 2021

The shallowness, the injustice, the strive for wealth and power, brutality, and greed are the common themes, developed and explored in the books by Julia Alvarez “In the Time of The Butterflies” and by F. Scott Fitzgerald “The Great Gatsby”. Within both books, the authors give an insight into the same time period concerning the Dominican Republic, the ruler of which brought hardship and a great resistance throughout the country, about the life in America in the early 1920s. The period of time, depicted in the books is marked by great changes in the society (the after-war period with the economics soaring in America and the new ruler who comes to rules the Dominican Republic, women getting their right to vote). Both authors are using a similar text structure and organization, so that the development of characters may be achieved only with the help of going through the turns and twists of life. The text organization is very important for both works as it is the device both authors use to make the reader comprehend what is meant in the books. Thus, the characters of both books, first seeing everything through the rose-colored glasses, finally have to take them off to see their own development and the development of the surrounding society with the help of specific means that authors of the books use.

The text organization in the books is very essential as it gives the readers an idea of the development of the characters. The closure, which can be found within both books underlines and emphasizes the essence of the past for the ability to understand the present. The broken composition, used by the authors, does nothing but underlines how important the events are. Thus, in the “In the Time of The Butterflies”, the only sister of four, who managed to survive narrates her recollections on the lives of her sisters from the present and reverts the reader to the past events, which has happened to Minerva, Patria and Maria Teresa while in the book “The Great Gatsby” Nick reveals both his and Gatsby’s past in a manner, which interrupts the present narration and consequently, breaks the narration chain. Through these means, both authors show that it is easier for the readers to grasp the experience gained by the characters of the books. The flashbacks, to which both narrators appeal to are placed in both texts to provide the reader with the necessary background information about the characters and events, they are involved. In both books, the characters are applying this device to fill in the information, which is important to the reader. A good example of the device in the book of Julia Alvarez is the reflection of Dede at the end of the book, while she is trying to understand her own development, as well as in the book “The Great Gatsby”, where, in the last ninth chapter, Nick is reflecting. This is a common feature for both books.

Through the story narration, the development of its characters is easily seen. From the beginning of each book, one can find both, characters that develop within the narration and do not. So that, the reader would be able to see characters and to compare them. There is no doubt that Minerva and Nick are the characters, who develop through the stories. As for Minerva, she is turning to a manipulating woman, observing other people, who surround her. She is not passive, as she is not part of the majority, she fights for other people’s rights and is trying to prove that the existence of a human being does not boil down to simple survival. The same has to do with Nick, who is also undoubtedly the character, who is developing. He begins the narration and while wandering with Nick through his recollections, the reader is able to see the changes, made in the inner world of this character. Though the ideas, provided by Nick at the beginning of his experience coincide with those at the end of the story, nevertheless, his disappointment with the society of 1920 makes him develop into a realist. While seeing the developing characters, the reader is also able to see the passive and stable ones as Minerva’s sisters Patria, Dede, and Maria Teresa, who appear to be not so active in displaying their views to the others. They lead more or less predetermined life and know their social duty. Likewise the characters in the other book like Daisy and Tom. Being a developing character means to have conflicts of various nature that are of the romantic nature (to be able to abandon beloved ones for the sake of the society), of the nature of interests (where two strong figures uphold their principles) Minerva and Nick appear to be in the conflicts of the outer and inner nature throughout the books, which proves their development, each of them cares about the other people rather than their own needs. Still, the three sisters, excluding Dede for her fear to abandon home and her husband, are the cornerstone for the underground organization, the objective of which is to overthrow the regime of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. Thus, the attempt to create the organization, which stands against his principles, is the idea to develop both oneself and the people through changing the rules, which circle within the society.

It is necessary to mention, that the reality, to which each of the characters of both books fails to address at once, awakes them from the sweet illusion that they can change the world in the end. It is practically impossible for a person to do that, the characters need to understand it. And, when in the end they reckon about the events, which have happened to them, they are able to see their development. In the book “In the Time of The Butterflies” as well as in the book “The Great Gatsby” both narrators have to come to terms with the situation. At the end of the book, Nick is able to clearly see how greedy and wealth searching the society of his time is. The seventh chapter in the book can be regarded as a climax of the book as in this chapter the hidden conflict between Tom and Gatsby is brought into the open. The consequences of the conflict make Gatsby take Daisy’s blame, which shows his profound dignity and true love for her. The climax of the book brings Nick back to reality.

Although both books depict different events, they are devoted to the same time period and explore the same crucial themes, which give an important insight into the inner world of human nature and social disclosure. Firstly, this effect is emphasized with the breaking in the composition of the books. Thus, the most important events stand out. Secondly, the topics of the book can be grasped through the rapid development of the characters of both books, reached by those devices. And finally, the organization of the texts plays an important role in the deeper understanding of the events of both books, in the characterization of the scratches.

References

Alvarez, J. (2021). «In the time of the butterflies». Penguin Classics.

Fitzgerald, F. S. (2021). «The great Gatsby». Signet

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