Corruption, Glitz, and Secret Love!


F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1921
F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1921

F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, "The Great Gatsby" tells the tale of a mysterious figure, Jay Gatsby who throws the most extravagant parties in West Egg. Despite being extodinarily wealthy, something from his life is missing. What is he looking for? How is he making his fortune?


Quill icon.pngGo here for brief biographies of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald from PBS



Essential Unit Question(s)

In what ways is Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby an accurate portrayal of the social, economic, and cultural trends of the 1920s?


Fitzgerald modeled Gatsby's house in the novel on this house, called Lands End, in Long Island, NY.

Zelda Fitzgerald, 1919
Zelda Fitzgerald, 1919
In this article, writer Peter Applebome attempts to explain the fascination surrounding the setting and characters of Gatsby as, "the epitome of an era that haunts us still as a fleeting moment of America on the cusp of something it never quite duplicated or achieved--money with style, sin that seemed innocent, human-scale pleasures, a jazz-inflicted version of the American dream minus today's cynicism and rust."





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For discussion:
What is your "green light"? What do you think of as a personally inspiring green light for you?
  • This article from The New York Times features a teacher in Boston who is doing interesting work with students surrounding the motif of the green light from the novel.

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Historical Connections

Go here for more on the history of the 1920s



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external image 120px-Musical_notes.svg.pngThe era dubbed, the Roaring Twenties, was also called the Jazz Age because of the style of music that was taking over the country.
  • Jazz characterized the speakeasies, illegal places one could access alcohol, as well as dance halls everywhere.
  • In more conservative eyes, Jazz was viewed as one of the causes of the "moral-loosening" that was taking the nation, particularly the women, by storm.
  • PBS offers a short history of the Jazz movement as well as a few audio samples. These catchy, exciting beats should travel through the audience's mind as they read Fitzgerald's novel.

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In an interview about his film, Jazz, Ken Burns says that this genre of music is one of the most pure American created forms of art which best shows the nation's promise, freedom, and creativity. Burns goes on to say why Louis Armstrong is the single, most important figure in American music:
"The biggest surprise and delight of all has been getting to know the power and force and genius of Louis Armstrong."
Click this photo of 'Pops' the name Louis Armstrong's friends called him, to view more of what Burns says about Jazz.
Visit the website: http://www.pbs.org/jazz/







Image attributed to Nicolas Mollet and Matthias Stasiak
Image attributed to Nicolas Mollet and Matthias Stasiak


Before reading The Great Gatsby, set the scene for the novel by discussing the social, political, and economical aspects of the era. Teachers may want to research some of the events/people pictured in the power point so they are able to speak to their students about the importance of each of these photographs. Students will work independently as well as with small groups on the worksheet during this lesson.





Approximately 50 years after Fitzgerald wrote the Great Gatsby, a film version was created in 1974. Fifty years after that, the film was once again re-created in 2013, starring Leonardo DiCapprio. What gives this story lasting impact? Why do we keep coming back to it? After reading Chapter 3 of the novel, use this lesson plan for a literary adaptation comparison of the party scenes in the 1974 and 2013 versions of the film. Which would Fitzgerald likely prefer?



Consider Fitzgerald's intricate and artfully crafted writing style. He uses colors to characterize his protagonists but also uses them to help readers foreshadow action and shifts in mood.

Click to see a lesson plan to use when working with color symbolism. Students will select an appropriate color to represent each character and then find quotations that highlight this connection through the character's actions or personality. Common Core standards included.