I know that a large number of people are reading and rereading Gatsby in anticipation of the new movie coming out in May. I actually reread the novel twice back in late January/early February as a prepped for and began teaching a unit on the novel to my sophomore English classes.
I'm going to be honest and say that teaching The Great Gatsby was one of the highlights of teaching this year. I loved this novel before, but each time I reread it, I find more and more to love. I feel like I can pull more depth from it with each reading, and I see more and more to love in the language.
And being able to teach it? To talk about all of the lush descriptions and the characters and the symbolism? I was in heaven. I loved every minute of it, and I loved seeing my kids grasp the deeper themes.
We talked so much about the hopelessness that pervades the novel-how Nick escapes to the East in hopes of changing his fortune, but ultimately returns home because of the events surrounding his time in the East. We talked about Gatsby and his belief in love, his hope that by becoming a different man he can erase time and win Daisy's heart...
“Can’t repeat the past?…Why of course you can!”
However, one of our biggest conversations (at least in one of my classes) surrounded Daisy and the fact that you aren't supposed to like her. She is spoiled, selfish, and uncaring to those around her. she lives in the moment and grasps what seems easier. My students were very vocal about her and their distaste for her throughout the whole novel. And then we talked about the fact that she feels trapped in her life...what would it be like to be trapped in a life you didn't want? Their answers were so deep. I loved it.
|I love this new cover by Alma Books.|
“Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead.”
In all, reading The Great Gatsby again, and teaching it to my students, allowed me to see more depth and pull more from it. I wish I could teach every novel I read. :)
We ended our unit with a formal essay, but I also assigned a short writing assignment immediately after we finished the novel. We watched the two videos from John Green's Crash Course on Youtube (first video and second video) and I had the students answer the question Green poses, "Was Gatsby truly great?"
Even now, I'm not sure of my own answer, but I do know that the novel is great, and that I love it.
And if you haven't read it, you need to.
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”