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The Great Gatsby

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on May 16, 2010 at 9:14:44 pm




The complete text of The Great Gatsby can be found online here or from the link on the sidebar.


Part One:  Introducing the Text:  Who was F. Scott Fitzgerald?


"Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896, and named after his ancestor Francis Scott Key, the author of The Star-Spangled Banner. Fitzgerald was raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. Though an intelligent child, he did poorly in school and was sent to a New Jersey boarding school in 1911. Despite being a mediocre student there, he managed to enroll at Princeton in 1913. Academic troubles and apathy plagued him throughout his time at college, and he never graduated, instead enlisting in the army in 1917, as World War I neared its end.


Fitzgerald became a second lieutenant, and was stationed at Camp Sheridan, in Montgomery, Alabama. There he met and fell in love with a wild seventeen-year-old beauty named Zelda Sayre. Zelda finally agreed to marry him, but her overpowering desire for wealth, fun, and leisure led her to delay their wedding until he could prove a success. With the publication of This Side of Paradise in 1920, Fitzgerald became a literary sensation, earning enough money and fame to convince Zelda to marry him.


Many of these events from Fitzgerald's early life appear in his most famous novel, The Great Gatsby, published in 1925. Like Fitzgerald, Nick Carraway is a thoughtful young man from Minnesota, educated at an Ivy League school (in Nick's case, Yale), who moves to New York after the war. Also similar to Fitzgerald is Jay Gatsby, a sensitive young man who idolizes wealth and luxury and who falls in love with a beautiful young woman while stationed at a military camp in the South.


Having become a celebrity, Fitzgerald fell into a wild, reckless life-style of parties and decadence, while desperately trying to please Zelda by writing to earn money. Similarly, Gatsby amasses a great deal of wealth at a relatively young age, and devotes himself to acquiring possessions and throwing parties that he believes will enable him to win Daisy's love. As the giddiness of the Roaring Twenties dissolved into the bleakness of the Great Depression, however, Zelda suffered a nervous breakdown and Fitzgerald battled alcoholism, which hampered his writing. He published Tender Is the Night in 1934, and sold short stories to The Saturday Evening Post to support his lavish lifestyle. In 1937, he left for Hollywood to write screenplays, and in 1940, while working on his novel The Love of the Last Tycoon, died of a heart attack at the age of forty-four.


Fitzgerald was the most famous chronicler of 1920s America, an era that he dubbed “the Jazz Age.” Written in 1925, The Great Gatsby is one of the greatest literary documents of this period, in which the American economy soared, bringing unprecedented levels of prosperity to the nation. Prohibition, the ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution (1919), made millionaires out of bootleggers, and an underground culture of revelry sprang up. Sprawling private parties managed to elude police notice, and “speakeasies”—secret clubs that sold liquor—thrived. The chaos and violence of World War I left America in a state of shock, and the generation that fought the war turned to wild and extravagant living to compensate. The staid conservatism and timeworn values of the previous decade were turned on their ear, as money, opulence, and exuberance became the order of the day.


Like Nick in The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald found this new lifestyle seductive and exciting, and, like Gatsby, he had always idolized the very rich. Now he found himself in an era in which unrestrained materialism set the tone of society, particularly in the large cities of the East. Even so, like Nick, Fitzgerald saw through the glitter of the Jazz Age to the moral emptiness and hypocrisy beneath, and part of him longed for this absent moral center. In many ways, The Great Gatsby represents Fitzgerald's attempt to confront his conflicting feelings about the Jazz Age. Like Gatsby, Fitzgerald was driven by his love for a woman who symbolized everything he wanted, even as she led him toward everything he despised."

(taken from http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/gatsby/context.html


Part Two:  Reading the Text 


1.1 read a variety of student- and teacher-selected texts from diverse cultures and historical periods, identifying specific purposes for reading (RLS)

1.2 select and use, with increasing facility, the most appropriate reading comprehension strategies to understand texts, including complex and challenging texts (RLS)

3.2 use decoding strategies effectively to read and understand unfamiliar words, including words of increasing difficulty (RLS)

3.3 regularly use a variety of strategies to explore and expand vocabulary, discerning shades of meaning and assessing the precision with which words are used in the texts they are reading (RLS)


When reading The Great Gatsby, you will be asked to do three things:


1) Keep track of the main characters on a character analysis chart which should look something like this:


Character’s Name

Personality Traits

Physical Traits

Evidence from the Novel
































2) Work on the chapter vocabulary assignments that will be handed out to you


3) Answer the questions found below 


Chapter 1

1. From where did the narrator come and why?

2. Describe the narrator's house.

3. Describe the Buchanan's house.

4. How does Nick know Daisy and Tom?

5. What did Miss Baker tell Nick about Tom?

6. When asked about her daughter, what does Daisy say?

7. How is Gatsby introduced into the novel?


Chapter 2

1. What is the "valley of ashes"?

2. What are the"eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg"?

3. Who did Tom take Nick to meet?

4. What did Mrs. Wilson buy while she was out with Tom and Nick?

5. Where did they go? What was at 158th Street?

6. What does Catherine tell Nick about Gatsby?

7. What reason did Myrtle give for marrying George Wilson?

8. What did Tom do to Myrtle when she mentioned Daisy's name?


Chapter 3

1. Describe Gatsby's wealth. List some of the things that represent wealth.

2. What kind of people come to Gatsby's parties?

3. How does Nick meet Gatsby?

4. What are some of the stories about Gatsby?

5. Is Gatsby a "phony"?

6. Describe Nick's relationship with Jordan.



Chapter 4

1. Who is Kilpspringer?

2. What does Gatsby tell Nick about himself?

3. What "matter" did Gatsby have Jordan Baker discuss with Nick?

4. What does Mr.Wolfsheim tell Nick about Gatsby?

5. What does Jordan tell Nick about Daisy, Gatsby and Tom?


Chapter 5

1. Describe the meeting between Gatsby and Daisy. Why is he so nervous?

2. How long did it take Gatsby to make the money to buy the mansion?

3. Why did Gatsby want Daisy to see the house and his clothes?

4. What had the green light on the dock meant to Gatsby?

5. What had Gatsby turned Daisy into in his own mind?


Chapter 6

1. What is Gatsby's real history? Where is he from, and what is his name?

2. What did Don Cody do for Gatsby?

3. What is Daisy's opinion of Gatsby's party? How does this affect him?

4. What does Gatsby want from Daisy?


Chapter 7

1. What was Gatsby's reaction to Daisy's child?

2. What did Wilson do to Myrtle? Why?

3. Why do the four drive into the city on such a hot afternoon?

4. What does Gatsby think about Daisy's relationship with Tom?

5. What is Daisy's reaction to both men?

6. What happens on the way home from New York?

7. How do these people react to Myrtle's death: (i) Wilson (ii)Tom (iii) Nick (iv) Gatsby

8. What is the true relationship between Daisy and Tom?


Chapter 8

1. What does Gatsby tell Nick about his past? Is it true?

2. What does Michaelis believe caused Myrtle to run?

3. Why did she run?

4. Why does Wilson believe that Gatsby killed Myrtle?

5. What does Wilson do?


Chapter 9

1. Why couldn't Nick get anyone to come to Gatsby's funeral?

2. Who is Henry C. Gatz?

3. What is the book Henry Gatz shows Nick? Why is it important to the novel?

4. What happens between Nick and Jordan Baker?

5. What does Nick say about people like Daisy and Tom?


The novel and questions should be completed no later than April 22nd.  There will be a test on the novel on Tuesday, May 4th


Part Three:  Exploring the Text Further 


1.3 identify the most important ideas and supporting details in texts, including complex and challenging texts (RLS)

1.4 make and explain inferences of increasing subtlety and insight about texts, including complex and challenging texts, supporting their explanations with well-chosen stated and implied ideas from the texts (RLS)

1.6 analyse texts in terms of the information, ideas, issues, or themes they explore, examining how various aspects of the texts contribute to the presentation or development of these elements (RLS)

1.4 identify, sort, and order main ideas and supporting details for writing tasks, using a variety of strategies and selecting the organizational pattern best suited to the content and the purpose for writing (W)

2.4 write complete sentences that communicate their meaning clearly and effectively, skilfully varying sentence type, structure, and length to suit different purposes and making smooth and logical transitions between ideas (W)

2.1 identify general and specific characteristics of a variety of media forms and demonstrate insight into the way they shape content and create meaning (MS)


Assignment # 1


There is some description in the novel of the homes of Nick, Gatsby, and the Buchanans.  Your assignment is to describe each of their homes and explain how the home of each corresponds to the social position, lifestyle, and personality of the occupiers/owners.


The essay should begin with an opening paragraph in which you introduce the idea that each of the homes suits the characteristics of its owners.  In the body of your composition, write one paragraph about each home/owner combination.  Write a concluding paragraph in which you summarize your ideas and make your final statements and conclusions.


Be sure to include references from the book and cite those references accordingly.  When you do a final proofreading of your paper, double-check your grammar, spelling, organization, and the clarity of your ideas.


The rubric for the assignment can be found here


Assignment # 2


Many of the characters in The Great Gatsby are well-developed, with their attitudes and motivations revealed in the text.  Your assignment is to write one of the following letters:


(a)   from Gatsby to Daisy persuading her to leave Tom for him

(b)   from Nick to Gatsby persuading him to give up his hopes for a relationship with Daisy

(c)   from Jordan to Nick persuading him to pursue his relationship with her

(d)   from Myrtle to Tom persuading him to leave Daisy for her


Choose which of the letters you would like to write.  Think about the character who is doing the writing (the character you must pretend to be as you write the letter).  Now think about the person to whom you are writing.  Jot down a list of three or four things that would be most likely to persuade that person to do what you want him/her to do.  Which of these things would make your best argument?


Your composition should be in a letter format.  Use the introductory paragraph to introduce the idea you wish to convey in your letter.  Write one paragraph for each of your persuasive arguments.


Assignment # 3


1.3 identify the most important ideas and supporting details in texts, including complex and challenging texts (RLS)

1.5 extend understanding of texts, including complex and challenging texts, by making rich and increasingly insightful connections between the ideas in them and personal knowledge, experience, and insights; other texts; and the world around them (RLS)

1.7 evaluate the effectiveness of texts, including complex and challenging texts, using evidence from the text insightfully to support their opinions (RLS)

2.3 identify a variety of elements of style in texts and explain how they help communicate meaning and enhance the effectiveness of the texts (RLS)

2.5 explain, with increasing insight, how their own beliefs, values, and experiences are revealed in their writing (W)

1.1 explain how media texts, including complex and challenging texts, are created to suit particular purposes and audiences (MS)

2.1 identify general and specific characteristics of a variety of media forms and demonstrate insight into the way they shape content and create meaning (MS)

2.2 identify conventions and/or techniques used in a variety of media forms and demonstrate insight into the way they convey meaning and influence their audience (MS)



There has been a graphic adaptation written of the Great Gatsby by an Australian illustrator, Nicki Greenberg

After reading only the first chapter, write a short reflection (between half a page and a page) on the following questions:

(i) How does the mood and tone of the graphic novel version's beginning compare to the original novel's first chapter?

(ii) How is the content of the graphic novel version different from the original?

(iii) How is this an effective/ineffective form for the story to be told in?

(iv) What aspects of the graphic novel (illustrations, format, colours, design, aesthetics) work in telling the story?

(v) What aspects of the graphic novel (illustrations, format, colours, design, aesthetics) distract from the telling of the story?


The rubric for the assignment can be found here.


These assignments should be handed in on April 30th. 


Part Four:  Final Thoughts on the Text


If time permits, we will view a film version of The Great Gatsby (will include partial viewing of the film and some media questions. 


Part Five:  Great Gatsby Quiz 


 Voice of the Storyteller

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