GATSBY’S LAST SENTENCE. The great last sentence of THE GREAT GATSBY is:

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Vidyan Ravinthiran had a review in the Times Literary Supplement (December 9) of Stanley Fish’s HOW TO WRITE A SENTENCE (which I posted on here). Ravinithiran notes that Fish only remarks that the series of b’s in the sentence slows the reader down. Ravnithiran adds the connection of “beat” and “boats” and the clotted accents in the sentence. He also says that the “e” sound in “beat” picks up the “e”sound in the green light which is an important symbol. I’m not so sure about that. I do think that the alliterative effect of the short words beginning with b and the word “ceaselessly” have a powerful effect. The beautiful sentence also serves as the keystone for the novel.

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  1. Lee says:

    For me, it was always the final paragraph and especially the penultimate sentence that made my breath catch. The whole bit about the first sighting of a virgin America and the optimism with which Americans are so often credited.

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