«DOI: 10.1515/jolace-2015-0013 Causative get-constructions in the dialogued passages in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels The Beautiful and Damned and ...»
Of the 4 occurrences of the causative get used by women, 3 of them are used by women having a superior status. Since superiority is so strongly connected with masculinity, we propose that those female characters also possess some masculine traits or they simply use “masculine” language, while addressing males, as to accommodate to the manner men speak. Therefore, we postulate that the causative get used in the two novels should, in most cases, be labelled not only as “masculine”, but also “superior” get. As this finding seems to be of a well-defined pattern, let us have a look to 3 specific contexts and analyze them in terms of (i) situational context, (ii) the intended pragmatic import and (iii) contextual assessment. Because the causative get is mostly used when the speaker’s position is superior (with only one case of the verb when the speaker assumes an inferior position), we shall only analyze the superiority cases in our Case Studies.
Case Studies Case study 1
Situational context The quotation is part of a dialogue between Anthony Patch and Richard Caramel. The quoted sentence is generated by the former character. The conversation takes place on a freezing, winter afternoon in New York City. Anthony Patch walks along Forty-Second Street when he unexpectedly encounters Richard Caramel emerging from the Manhattan Hotel barber shop. Richard Caramel wears a fashionable, sheep-lined coat and a soft, brow hat. He stops Anthony, slaps him on the arms and shakes hands with him. Richard mentions that he has recently been working a lot on his novel in a cold room which makes him fear that he might get pneumonia as a result. Richard seizes Anthony’s arm and they
walk briskly up Madison Avenue. When Anthony asks Dick where they are going to, Dick replies:
“Nowhere in particular” (Fitzgerald, 1922, p. 29). Dick’s face is all red from the cold. They pass FortyFifth Street and slow down slightly. Both of them light cigarettes.
Anthony suggests that they walk up to the Plaza and have an egg-nog. Furthermore, Anthony asserts that walking up to the Plaza will be good for Dick, and additionally, the air will get the nicotine out of Dick’s lungs. Anthony also says that Dick will be able to tell him about his book on the way to Plaza. The two men reach Fiftieth Street and turn over toward Madison Avenue. They continue their conversation, with Gloria Gilbert being its main topic. They have a little argument, but they reconcile by the time they reach the Plaza. It is the dusk when they enter Plaza where they have the egg-nog.
Pragmatic import Richard Caramel is happy to meet Anthony Patch. He stops Anthony enthusiastically. Nevertheless, when he slaps Anthony on his arms, he does it “more from a desire to keep himself warm than from playfulness” (ibid.). Another reason why Dick is happy is that he has been working a lot and he is pleased with the results of his work. He says: “Done some good work on my novel” (ibid.). Dick believes 5 This is an excerpt from our Table 2 where we present all our get-occurrences. Similarly, whenever we offer a
that he occasionally needs to go out, meet other people and talk to them. He says: “I have to get out once in a while” (ibid.).
While meeting Dick, Anthony seems to be the person who dominates the conversation and emphasizes his superior position by means of both words and gestures. After Dick seizes Anthony’s arm, Anthony withdraws his arm gently, which may be interpreted as a signal that he will not allow Dick to dominate him or exert control over him. What is more, Anthony says sarcastically: “I don’t mind carrying you, Dick, but with that coat—”, which again can be construed as not giving consent to Dick for controlling the situation (Fitzgerald, 1922, p. 30). Moreover, in response to Dick’s dilemmas, Anthony does not show understating or offer any support, but he only grunts, which again marks his somewhat disrespectful attitude towards Dick. The two characters light up cigarettes, which may be understood as a way of easing their tension or indulging themselves.
It should be mentioned that it is the character that has the stronger position, Anthony, who suggests going to the Plaza. The very quotation in question may be interpreted as Anthony’s advice which is offered to Dick. One normally expects that a suggestion or advice is usually given by the party who enjoys more power or authority in a relation, rather than the one that having an inferior position. This fact would again prove Anthony to be the more powerful interlocutor. The intended, pragmatic result of the quotation is actually to make Dick go for a drink with Anthony, and not really to cause Dick’s lungs to clear from nicotine. The suggestion that a walk and fresh air will do Dick good is, therefore, only a tool, if not a mere pretext, for achieving Anthony’s goal. This goal would be having an alcoholic drink.
Dick accepts Anthony’s proposal which once more confirms Anthony’s dominance in the relation. The hearer’s response to the speaker’s linguistic stimulus is, therefore, fully compatible to the intended one.
That this could be so can be further evidenced with some more phrases in the dialogue. Anthony “magnanimously” lets Dick talk about his book all the way to the Plaza. In reply, Dick says: “I don’t want to if it bores you. I mean you needn’t do it as a favour”, which again portrays Dick as a weaker character (ibid.). Furthermore, it is Anthony who offends Dick when they talk about the types of women for whom Dick has liking. When Dick wants to react after he has been offended, Anthony does not let him do so by interrupting him “ruthlessly” (Fitzgerald, 1922, p. 31). Dick complains to Anthony thusly: “You talk sometimes as though I were a sort of inferior” (ibid.). This again confirms the observation that Anthony, in his acting towards Dick, shows superiority or at least Dick feels inferior.
Contextual assessment The context clearly demonstrates that it is Anthony who assumes the more powerful, dominant position throughout the dialogue. This can be well evidenced both by Anthony’s language and acting.
Therefore, the kind of causative get that we see in this Case Study is clearly masculine and serves the purposes of imposing the superiority position by the speaker on the hearer.
Case study 2
Anthony tries to warn Gloria that an inexperienced driver should not go over twenty miles an hour for the first five thousand miles. Gloria nods briefly, but she fails to obey Anthony’s warnings and she slightly increases the speed. Soon afterwards, Anthony makes another attempt to make Gloria slow down. He mentions to Gloria that she has ignored a road sign with a speed limit. He asks rhetorically if she wants them to get arrested for speeding. Gloria replies to Anthony that he always exaggerates. They hastily pass a policeman that has swerved into view. Anthony asks Gloria about the policeman: “See him?” (Fitzgerald, 1922, p. 146). Anthony continues warning his wife to drive carefully. He tells her to mind railroad tracks and approaching automobiles. Eventually, he insists on taking the wheel and he succeeds.
Pragmatic import When Gloria asks Anthony to let her drive the car, he looks at her suspiciously and doubts her skills.
He asks Gloria: “You swear you’re a good driver?” This seems to confirm the stereotype that women are bad drivers, or it may simply indicate that Anthony doubts Gloria’s skills. Anthony’s unfavourable attitude towards the prospect of Gloria driving the car finds reflection in Anthony’s language and behaviour. For instance, when he stops the car in order to let Gloria drive it, he does it cautiously, as if he wanted to express his uncertainty and reluctance. The very idea that a woman should drive the car may also, in Anthony’s eyes, undermine his superior, masculine position. Soon after he allows Gloria to drive, he realizes that he has made a great mistake in relinquishing control over the car. Yet, Anthony marks his strong, dominant position by scolding Gloria and giving her frequent and numerous warnings and indications about driving.
The linguistic means that seem to confirm Anthony’s dominant position include the use of the imperative: “Remember now!” or the verb ought in: “The man said we oughtn’t to go over twenty miles an hour for the first five thousand miles” (Fitzgerald, 1922, p. 145). As to emphasize his superior position, he also makes use of rhetorical questions, such as “See that sign?” (ibid.). The quoted phrase itself: “Do you want to get us pinched?” is itself a rhetorical question. Its intended, pragmatic effect is to scare the hearer and in consequence cause her to slow down. This sharply contrast with the achieved pragmatic effect (import), as the hearer’s response to the speaker’s linguistic stimulus is just opposite, that is, the hearer does not obey the speaker’s commands and continues reckless driving. Gloria says that Anthony simply exaggerates and persists in her speedy ride.
The dominant position of the speaker can be further evidenced with some more data. Anthony continues trying to exert control over Gloria. He does it, for example, by asking another rhetorical question. He asks Gloria whether she has seen the policeman that they passed hastily. Moreover, he assumes the position of reasonable and responsible person as he warns Gloria of railroad tracks and points out approaching cars. Reproving Gloria and giving her confirms his powerful status. Eventually, as he gets his own way, his masculine, superior position is not endangered. He insists on taking the wheel and Gloria finally obeys.
Contextual assessment The context clearly demonstrates that the speaker of the quotation under examination enjoys dominant and more powerful position throughout the dialogue than the hearer. This is well demonstrated by the language used by the speaker as well as by his non-verbal signals. Hence, our scrutiny of the causative get in the present Case Study clearly indicates that we deal with masculine get which is used in order to impose the superiority position by the speaker on the hearer.
Situational context The quotation is a part of a dialogue between Dick Diver and Baby Warren. The quoted sentence is produced by the latter character. Anthony encounters Baby in the doorway of the Excelsior in Rome.
Baby says that she thought Dick was in America. Dick tells her that he was in America, but he has returned to Europe via Naples. They have dinner together. At Baby’s request, Dick tells her about recent events in his life. As the conversation continues, Baby suggests that Dick and Nicole move away, because a change would be desirable for Nicole. Dick reminds Baby that it was her idea to buy the clinic in Switzerland where Dick practises, so he does not understand why they should move away. Baby says that the decision on buying the clinic resulted from the fact that Dick was “leading that hermit’s life on the Riviera” (Fitzgerald, 1934, p. 317). Baby suggests that they move, for example, to London, as “the English are the best-balanced race in the world” (ibid.). Baby continues to persuade Dick to move to England with Nicole. She says that money is not a problem as there is plenty of it and it should be used to treat Nicole. Dick rejects Baby’s idea.
Pragmatic import When Dick meets Baby in the Excelsior, she tries to establish the dominant position over Dick from the very beginning of the dialogue. She demands, not asks him to tell her about recent events in his life.
She frowns at Dick, which may be interpreted as a sign of dissatisfaction and her dominant status. She says that she does not want to give advice or interfere with Dick and Nicole’s affairs, yet her words about Nicole’s prospects may be interpreted just to the contrary. She says: “Dick, I don’t pretend to advise you or to know much about it but don’t you think a change might be good for her—to get out of that atmosphere of sickness and live in the world like other people?” (Fitzgerald, 1934, p. 317). Baby appears to be very shallow and self-confident, but she is persistent and obstinate at the same time.
While talking to Dick about the national character of the English, she strongly disagrees with Dick’s opinion on that issue. Baby is very anxious to make sure that her sister, Nicole, is treated well. Baby is a wealthy and powerful woman and she seems to take advantage of that fact.
The intended pragmatic effect of the quotation is to take Nicole from Franz and Dick's clinic and to settle her in England. The money will be an instrument necessary to attain this goal. Baby knows that her position enables her to influence and manipulate people, including Dick. Dick, on the other hand, knows that he is dependent on Baby. He is aware of the fact that he became a co-owner of the clinic in Switzerland only due to Baby’s financial support. Albeit Dick agreed to acquire the Swiss clinic with the Warrens’ money, he had a feeling that Baby’s message, directed to him, was: “We own you, and you’ll admit it sooner or later. It is absurd to keep up the pretense of independence” (Fitzgerald, 1934. p. 261).
This, once more, confirms that in the relation between Dick and Baby, it is the latter individual who has the dominant position. Yet, Dick rejects Baby’s idea. Therefore, Dick’s response to the linguistic stimulus produced by Baby is just opposite to the intended one. Dick does not agree to move to England. In other words, Baby’s ideas contrast sharply with the achieved pragmatic effect (import).
Nevertheless, Baby remains the more powerful character and her dominant status can be further evidenced with some other data from the novel. For instance, when Dicks gets arrested because of fighting with a man who happens to be an Italian policeman, ironically, the only person he can resort to is Baby Warren. Due to her persistence at the Consulate, she accomplishes Dick’s release.