...So Does Season

Analyzing Season in Literature

Monique Paquette

English II Honors

Ms. Harris

November, 2013

Examples will be from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Seasons Have A Deeper Meaning

"For as long as anyone's been writing anything, the seasons have stood for the same set of meanings" (Foster 178).

  • Every season has a emotion or state of being which it correlates to.
  • Names can also stand for seasons.
  • Summer = passion, love, adulthood, romance, and fulfillment
  • Spring = youth, birth and rebirth
  • Autumn = middle age, tiredness, decline, and harvest
  • Winter = death, old age, resentment, ending, hatred, and anger
  • These seasons are not always specifically mentioned. They may be hinted at through weather or mentioning of a date.

Example of This Concept

  • Carraway, at the beginning of the story, states that when he left the East in the Autumn he wanted the world to be more uniform, showing a sense of tiredness with the world.
  • Carraway also mentions that he went to the East in the Spring time. This was in an attempt to get away and start a new life, showing rebirth correlating with spring.

Seasonal Meanings are Ingrained

"We know these patterns because they have been with us for so long" (Foster 181).

  • We are taught from a young age to recognize these metaphors.
  • This is evident by the fact that we understand the metaphors without them ever being directly explained to us.
  • These metaphors are likely ingrained by what happens each season

Example of This Concept

Miss Baker retells the events of Daisy's youth and throughout mentions the seasons. Notably winter being when Gatsby left, a sad time, and August, in the summer, being when she returned with Tom, her new husband who she was now madly in love with. Without being told readers understand these changes in seasons directly relate to Daisy's changing emotions.

Seasons Can Be Used Ironically

  • The metaphor can have its normal implication altered therefore being ironic.
  • Can be seen by authors reversing the typical meaning behind a season.
  • This would be in a case where , for example, the author killed a character in the spring.

Example of This Concept

Daisy is a name often associated with Spring therefore the idea of youth and birth. Throughout The Great Gatsby, Gatsby longs for Daisy who is shown to represent a return to the past for him. However, she eventually leads him to his death therefore, the metaphor of spring is used ironically.

These Seasons are all the Same, but Different

"Will she play it straight or use spring ironically? Will summer be warm and rich and liberating or hot and dusty and stifling? Will autumn find us toting up our accomplishments or winding down, arriving at wisdom and peace or being shaken by those November winds? The seasons are always the same in literature and yet always different" (Foster 181).

  • The meaning from work to work remain fairly constant
  • Usage can alter them causing the differences
  • For example, an ironic usage could send across the same message but much differently
  • Abstract vs. stated also changes usage but the meaning remains
  • The patterns have been present in human history for a long time, therefore writers try to keep the meaning but change it around to provide interest.
  • The meanings are often kept the same because we already understand them, and because seasons help give insight.

Example of This Concept

  • Spring is shown both ironically and non-ironically in the story
  • The idea still remains youth and rebirth but changes with use
  • The use of Daisy is meant in an ironic way, but the meaning is the same
  • The beginning shows Carraway moving to the East for a new life making it non-ironic and using the constant idea of rebirth meaning spring

Learning Strategy: Think Pair Share

1. Get into partners or groups of 3

2. Read the passage
3. Think on your own about the following questions...

  • What is happening in the story?
  • What season is being used?
  • How is it being used? (normal meaning, ironic, etc.)
  • What is it being used to show?
  • Why did the author choose this season?
4. Talk with your partners about what you think the answers are.
5. Share with the class!

Works Cited

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gastsby. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1975. Print.

Foster, Thomas C.. How to Read Literature Like a Professor. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2003. Print.

Martin, George R.R.. A Game of Thrones. New York: Bantam Books, 1996. Print.