One example of a literary flashback occurs in F. Scott Fitzgerald?s ?The Great Gatsby,? when Gatsby recalls his relationship with Daisy many years earlier. A flashback is a narrative interruption that shares previous events with the reader. Other examples occur in William Faulkner?s ?The Sound and the Fury.?
Flashbacks typically serve as method to reveal more information about a character. They are also a way to show how past events affect a character?s current circumstances. For example, Gatsby?s unsuccessful relationship with Daisy allows Fitzgerald to shed light on Gatsby?s background and his motivations for achieving wealth. The entirety of ?The Great Gatsby? actually occurs in the form of a flashback, as narrator Nick Carraway begins the novel by reflecting back on his relationship with Gatsby.
William Faulkner?s novel ?The Sound and the Fury? is also filled with flashbacks that serve to illustrate the history of the Compson family. In the novel?s opening section, narrator Benjy frequently flashes back to different events throughout his life. Faulkner uses a complex system of flashbacks to demonstrate the mentally-stunted character?s fragmented sense of time and to shed light on the relationships between other family members. In the second section, narrator Quentin Compson?s frequent flashbacks to his childhood serve to indicate his obsession with his sister Caddy and the toll it takes on his life.