This Side of Paradise is separated into two books and a short interlude in between. The two books are divided into four respectively five chapters and the chapters are again subdivided. All passages, chapters and the two books have headings that indicate what happens in them.

The story is told as an objective third person narration. All action happens in the presence of the protagonist. Even though, the omniscient narrator does not always stay in the background but several times directly addresses the reader as will be further discussed on the section about stylistic devices. Most of one chapter of the novel – “The Débutante”, Book Two, Chapter 1 – is not told as a narration. Instead, it is in the form of a movie or theatre script. In addition, there is action going on in the absence of Amory Blaine.

The relation between reading time and narrating time differs largely in the novel. While the first chapter spans a narrating time of over 17 years on 31 pages, the last chapter discusses one day on 26. This is because the author often leaves out long periods in the life of Amory, which seem to be of no importance to the development of the plot. For example, the two years Amory spends in the army are mentioned only in the manner of two letters and a poem, while nothing about the war itself is expressed. Actually, the concept of narrating time seems unusable in the case of letters and especially poems, which appear quite often in the novel, since it is hard to say, how long it takes to write a poem, to thoroughly read it and to find out how much narrating time should be estimated for it. Anyhow, where applicable, the narrating time steadily decreases from the beginning to the end and in this way supports the climax of the plot in the very end.

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