The Bubble: A Micro-Pastiche of The Great Gatsby

Something you should know before you read this article: this will be an imagination overdose. Dreams and fantasies are after all, the backbone of Gatsby’s story – one of my set texts this year for AS level English Literature. And being the quintessential dreamer myself (I got ridiculously excited about this idea in the middle of studying psychology, to illustrate my point), I could imagine extracting the decadence of Fitzgerald’s writing style and imitating it to write about something equally as rich in imagery. Writing a pastiche.

Of course, the theme of imagination was the first thing that caught my attention from studying the character of Briony from McEwan’s Atonement (another of my set texts). I started out wanting to write about a consuming, uncontrollable sort of imagination, say, what a child might see in the dark. Somehow watching my sister play in puddles after the rain directed me towards a different feeling altogether – more like the fascination and innocent, simple joy in a child’s daydreams.

Here’s what I’ve come up with; a sort of micro-pastiche, if you will:

children in puddles

For a moment, she made me see like life was a gelatinous bubble, caught in an endless blooming and stretching across the sky, like a plate of pink jelly. It was a bubble that asked me to follow as the sun winked down upon it, as it wobbled onwards in her imagination. Past a jungle of orangutans dressed in pink, a gaggle of gentlemanly geese, past many such universes that pirouetted and floated away temptingly like dandelion seeds. And now, she’s running into a puddle, causing little explosions in the water where her feet have left. Splosh, splish, splash, all the way to the end, her black hair flouncing in the summer breeze, laughing at the water’s endless tickle and tease and frolic. I want to pull her close and whisper into the tiny whorl of her ear that, perhaps, that bubble would come to rest on the tip of a swooping leaf, like a dewdrop; perfect, iridescent, forever. These are the implausible promises that, for today, and perhaps a few years more, flutter in her sun-soaked eyes.

By Shreya Manna ©

This was the passage from Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby that this was inspired from:

“But his heart was in a constant, turbulent riot. The most grotesque and fantastic conceits haunted him in his bed at night. A universe of ineffable gaudiness spun itself out in his brain while the clock ticked on the washstand and the moon soaked with wet light his tangled clothes upon the floor. Each night he added to the pattern of his fancies until drowsiness embrace. For a while these reveries provided an outlet for his imagination; they were a satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality, a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy’s wing.”

Wait a minute, you might be thinking, how does Gatsby’s obsessive dreaming and fantasising for the heroine, Daisy, translate into a child’s joy after a rainy day? And I have to admit, my ‘micro-pastiche’ does take a little bit of imagination itself to interpret. Rather, this was a creative experiment where I did my best to pick up on the rhetorical devices that Fitzgerald used to make his words ‘taste like champagne’, as some people put it.

I tried to reflect the rich, sensual personification to reflect a child’s innocence, in parallel with the beautiful dreaminess of the “moon soaked with wet light”. Quickly, we’re led into the crazy spiral of Gatsby’s thoughts with chaotic verb choices, like ‘universe…spun’, which is very similar to the way a child’s imagination spirals into, well, anything and everything they can concoct. The element of passionate chaos (‘tangled clothes’) was a little less pronounced in my adaptation, changed to give more of a playful impression. What I really liked about the third person narration, furthermore, in the Great Gatsby, is that you almost forgot that it was being narrated by someone else until that ironic nudge at the end (‘a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy’s wing’) where you are, as a reader, asked to make the judgement that Gatsby is absurdly fanciful. The power of this narration is easily used in talking about children because you have the contrast of innocence and experience – since I was the narrator of my passage, I could weave in how fleeting childhood is and how soon the ‘spark’ will be lost from the eyes of a child, dulled by the passage of time.

Speaking of time, I am really short of it at the moment with mocks upcoming. In fact, I’ve absconded from study time to write this up. So please, if you like my efforts, follow, like or comment!

Keep reading and read-joicing,