The Great Gatsby

In Fitzgerald’s novel, “class struggle” in America is portrayed as an intensely personal affair, as much a tension within the mind of a single character as a conflict between characters. During his evening at the Buchanans’, Nick Carraway says Daisy “looked at [him] with an absolute smirk on her lovely face as if she had asserted her membership in a rather distinguished secret society to which she and Tom belonged” (p. 22 in the Scribners paperback edition). Nick, a transplanted midwesterner uneasy in the East, is anxious to belong yet sensitive to the subtle snub; his mixed emotions are suggested here in the juxtaposition of “lovely” and “smirk” in his description of Daisy. Through a close study of the text ofThe Great Gatsby, an examination of Fitzgerald’s letters and other statements, and a consideration of class, wealth, and status during the turbulent 1920s, we explore the nature of the “secret society” implied in Daisy’s knowing smirk.

The social scene is full of drama. Who’s out? Who’s in? What’s cool? What’s not? Behind many of these questions is a burning desire to belong. To assert their status in a crowd, people learn the unwritten and unspoken codes of behavior. Personal experience of the struggle to belong can provide a starting point for an exploration of how concerns about wealth, race, geographical origins, and other factors affect the perception of social status in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

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That was always my experience—a poor boy in a rich town; a poor boy in a rich boy’s school; a poor boy in a rich man’s club at Princeton…. However, I have never been able to forgive the rich for being rich, and it has colored my entire life and works.”
—F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters, ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli. New York: Scribners, 1994. pg. 352.

Lesson Objectives:

Engage in practical textual analysis and critical thinking
Reflect on the class struggles of early twentieth century
Combine critical thinking, textual analysis, and imaginative writing skills
Read The Great Gatsby available at this link:

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/f/fitzgerald/f_scott/gatsby/index.html

Think about these guiding questions while reading the book:

What tensions about wealth and status are revealed in The Great Gatsby?
How are these tensions reflected in Nick Carraway’s struggle to belong?
Resources:

Reviewing these resources may help you understand the sentiments and contexts of the novel.

http://www.sc.edu/fitzgerald/index.html

http://www.sc.edu/fitzgerald/biography.html

http://www.sc.edu/fitzgerald/quotes/quotes6.html

Lesson Review

Directions: Answer the following lesson questions, Chapter 1 through Chapter 9.

Chapter 1

(Responses should be a minimum of three to five sentences each.)

1. What do you find is the most crucial in the plot in Chapter 1?

2. How does Nick describe himself at the beginning of the novel?

3. How does Nick describes Tom Buchanan?

4. Who is Jordan Baker? What does Nick find appealing about her?

5. What is Gatsby doing when Nick first sees him?

6. How does the tone of Nick’s description of Tom reveal Nick’s feelings about Tom? Use a quotation from the text to justify your answer.

Chapter 2

(Responses should be a minimum of three to five sentences each.)

1. What do you find is the most crucial in the plot in Chapter 2?

2. How does Nick meet Tom’s mistress?

3. How does Myrtle react to Tom’s arrival?

4. Describe George Wilson. How does he react to Tom’s arrival.

5. Describe the setting of the valley of the ashes where George and Myrtle live. What aspects of valley of the ashes are symbolic, and what do they symbolize? Use a quotation from the text to justify your answer.

6. Why does Tom attack Myrtle at the end of the party?

Chapter 3

(Responses should be a minimum of three to five sentences each.)

1. What do you find is the most crucial in the plot in Chapter 3?

2. Describe the two ways in which Nick differs from the other guests at Gatsby’s party.

3. What does Nick think of Gatsby when he first meets him? Use a quotation from the text to justify your answer.

4. What does Nick learn about Jordan Baker after he has spent some time with her?

5. How does Nick characterize the guests at Gatsby’s party?

6. What sense of the Jazz Age do we get from Nick’s description of the party? Use a quotation from the book to justify your answer.

Chapter 4

(Responses should be a minimum of three to five sentences each.)

1. What do you find is the most crucial in the plot in Chapter 4?

2. What does Gatsby tell Nick about himself?

3. According to Jordan, what did Daisy do on her wedding day? Why?

4. Why does Gatsby want to have tea with Daisy in Nick’s house? Why doesn’t Gatsby ask Nick for this favor himself?

5. How does Daisy behave after Gatsby goes overseas? What does her behavior show about her feelings for Gatsby? Use a quotation from the book to justify your answer.

Chapter 5

(Responses should be a minimum of three to five sentences each.)

1. What do you find is the most crucial in the plot in Chapter 5?

2. What is the meeting between Gatsby and Daisy like initially?

3. How are Daisy and Gatsby different when Nick returns to the house after a half an hour?

4. What are Gatsby’s feeling by the end of the chapter?

5. Why do you think Daisy sobs when Gatsby shows her his shirts? Use a quotation from the book to justify your answer.

6. What is the weather like in this chapter? How does it reflect the emotional climate of Gatsby and Daisy? Use a quotation from the book to justify your answer.

Chapter 6

(Responses should be a minimum of three to five sentences each.)

1. What do you find is the most crucial in the plot in Chapter 6?

2. When does James Gatz change his name? Why?

3. What is Daisy’s real response to the party, according to Nick?

4. What does Gatsby tell Nick he wants Daisy to do?

5. What is Nick’s view of the past? Use a quotation from the book to justify your answer.

Chapter 7

(Responses should be a minimum of three to five sentences each.)

1. What do you find is the most crucial in the plot of Chapter 7?

2. Why does Gatsby stop giving parties?

3. When does Tom first realize that Daisy loves Gatsby?

4. Why is Myrtle Wilson upset when she sees Tom and Jordan? Use a quotation from the book to justify your answer.

5. Why does George Wilson lock Myrtle in the bedroom?

6. At the end of the chapter, Gatsby is standing alone, looking out at Daisy’s house. Where else in the novel does he do this? How is this different? Use a quotation from the book to justify your answer.

Chapter 8

(Responses should be a minimum of three to five sentences each.)

1. What do you find is the most crucial in the plot of Chapter 8?

2. What does Gatsby tell Nick the night of the accident? Why?

3. How does George Wilson spend the night after the accident?

4. What evidence has Wilson found that his wife was having an affair?

5. What do the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg symbolize to George Wilson? Use a quotation from the book to justify your answer.

Chapter 9

(Responses should be a minimum of three to five sentences each.)

1. What do you find is the most crucial in the plot of Chapter 9?

2. What is the motive publicly given for Wilson’s murder of Gatsby?

3. What does the telephone call from Chicago tell us about Gatsby’s business?

4. Why is Gatsby’s father so proud of him?

5. How does Nick characterize Tom and Daisy at the end of the book? Use at least one quotation from the book to justify your answer.

6. What does the green light symbolize at the end of the novel? Use a quotation from the book to justify your answer.

FINAL QUESTION: (Your response should be a minimum of four to five sentences in length.)

Discuss the elements of the Jazz Age that Fitzgerald includes in The Great Gatsby.

adapted from

http://edsitement.neh.gov

http://www.duluth.lib.mn.us

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