Homework Assignment: The Great Gatsby
|Photo courtesy of Alyssa|
It was crunch time for my high school junior -- English Lit: themes in The Great Gatsby. Of course I remember reading the book! It's a classic by F. Scott Fitzgerald (*whew* thanks, wikipedia)
Sidenote: the first result on a google search is the 2013 film with Leonardo DiCaprio. The internet makes us stupid and smart all at the same time.
My daughter comes trudging in with a list of essay questions, and I can hardly remember the characters' names, let alone the plot (although it all starts coming back to me as we read the book cover and research "together").
The best resources (in addition to SparkNotes, of course) that we found are as follows (in no specific order):
1. The Twentieth Century Novel, an old 2008 blog by an English teacher (now professor) that's not being updated any more, has a page called the Final Discussion on Gatsby that gives a background on American society at the time (with a continuation here). Another couple of pages deal with themes: this one and this one. The mid-term exam gives an idea of the types of questions you can expect on term essays as well.
2. The Great Gatsby Study Guide from LitCharts. They'll email you a 10 page PDF that contains everything from themes to background info, plot overview, character descriptions, symbols, important quotes and a detailed summary and analysis.
3. Shmoop is a great site to get all the literary coverage you might need on The Great Gatsby, and it's presented in a way that might make old people (me) grit their teeth a little, but hey!, it's written for bored "I'd rather kill myself than read a book and write an essay" teens. (In defense of my old-codger attitude, one sentence reads: "Do we smell a Twilight-esque love triangle approaching?")
4. Enotes is another useful site with sample papers and analysis as well as teacher-written answers to some questions. For example, one question has to do with the portrayal of the American Dream, and there's some very good material on it there. You'll see a side menu of related questions too.
And just in case you've come up with a question about Jay Gatsby's car (his Rolls-Royce plays a crucial role in the story). It's described in the book as having “a rich cream color, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hat-boxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of wind-shields that mirrored a dozen suns.” (sorry, but I forget the chapter where you can find that quote).
Note: I would never buy an essay and submit it (or allow my kids to), but if you're stuck for ideas, you can scroll through some Gatsby papers at 123HelpMe, and maybe read the free ones. See if you can use them as prompts to help you develop ideas you may be having trouble with.