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    An Examination of Cecilia’s First Person Perspective in the Novel The Love of the Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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    Or, The Love of the Last Tycoon (1941), if preferred. Either way, the book, though otherwise a quality piece of literature given its unfinished state, has issues concerning its strange jumps in narrative perspective.

    The book has a strange tendency to leap between a third person omniscient narrator and first person narration from Cecilia’s perspective. The omniscience of the third person narrator is shown via various perspectives on the same conversation taking place at any given time, at least when we’re not being given Cecilia’s perspective.

    Many of the events told in third person still revolve around Stahr and his life, but rarely does the narrator directly enter Stahr’s perspective, choosing instead to leave his thoughts to mystery for the majority of the novel. (It does sometimes enter his perspective, but only briefly.) We do, however, get perspectives from several different characters who interact with him, such as Boxley, who, in Chapter V, complains to Stahr that his ideas are never used and who feels useless as a result. Rather than being given Stahr’s perspective here, we get Boxley’s thoughts as keeps himself from going on after admitting he wishes he could quit.

    On the other hand, Cecilia’s first person narration stays completely grounded in her perspective, without ever shifting or guessing at other characters’ thoughts and feelings without it being in-character speculation. I found myself noting most of the areas where the narrator jumps into another character’s perspective, and none of them occurred in the passages which Cecilia narrates.

    In these sections, Cecilia gives a feeling of being the main storyteller for the whole novel, and the transitions between third and first person narration are so transparent that they’re undetectable. That doesn’t stop Fitzgerald from telling us directly that Cecilia is taking up the narrative in certain sections, though these appear more as a tool for himself to keep track of where he intends Cecilia to tell the story and where the omniscient third-person narrator takes the reigns.

    These perspective jumps aren’t uncommon for Fitzgerald’s writing. While many of his stories stay within a single point of view, books like Tender is the Night (1934) use the perspectives of many characters in the story, though that story has a constant third person omniscient narrator. The question, however, is whether these jumps between point of view are an endemic issue in this novel, and I think it is.

    For instance, I don’t understand why Cecilia is necessary to the plot of the novel. There are, occasionally, some sections where she becomes useful to Stahr’s intentions. For instance, in Chapter VI, he wishes to meet someone in the Communist party, and Cecilia just happens to have connections. This would make her not unlike Nick Carraway in that she is. For the most part, a passive observer to Stahr, which draws even more comparisons.

    To this novel and The Great Gatsby (1925) which I don’t intend to get into here. For her part, the novel gave me the impression that she was telling the story the whole time, and when it appeared to me that she was narrating events which she could not have even known about, it confused me. This goes back to the issue of clarity the perspective switches: I never saw them coming, and I was never alerted in some way to the fact that they were happening, except for the very jarring “This is Cecilia taking up the narrative in person.”

    Lines like that also imply that, if she knows she’s telling the story, then she must have a way we don’t know about for being able to narrate events in the plot she isn’t aware of. If Fitzgerald wanted to keep Cecilia in the book, would it have changed the narrative much to leave her character’s perspective in the third person with the rest of the characters?

    For that matter, what about the other characters who receive attention this way? Returning to Boxley, his character is hardly ever mentioned outside of his little conversation with Stahr. And then again, later on in Chapter V, we encounter Stahr having a conversation with his Doctor, who holds the perspective through the entire section but is never seen or heard from again.

    Of course, all of this speaks to the novel’s unfinished state. Lines that directly tell us of Cecilia’s taking up the narration are evidence of this, as well as the blatant bracketed section in Chapter III. All of these issues could potentially have been fixed had Fitzgerald had the time to finish the novel, but we can only speculate, and his death means we will likely never know for sure.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    An Examination of Cecilia’s First Person Perspective in the Novel The Love of the Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald. (2022, Dec 10). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/an-examination-of-cecilias-first-person-perspective-in-the-novel-the-love-of-the-last-tycoon-by-f-scott-fitzgerald/

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