Is It Love or Loot? Assessing Character Motivations

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SWBAT cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support their claims as to whether they believe Gatsby truly loves Daisy or the wealth she represents.

Big Idea

Gatsby's eye for Daisy proves to be blind.


Because Chapter 7 offers a boatload of information, I find it necessary to spend two lessons exploring all the good nuggets of information.  Here, I want students to consider whether Gatsby really loves Daisy or the "wealth she imprisons."  It should become obvious to them that something is awry when he offers to take the blame for Myrtle's death.

In other events in this lesson, I am introducing students to another work of literature reminiscent of the Modernist Era.  That is the "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot.  The poem presents some of the major themes in the era including class differences that can be compared to The Great Gatsby.

Daily Language Practice

10 minutes

In this short section of the lesson, we do some grammatical review.  I call it the Daily Language Practice.  I put two sentences with grammatical mistakes on the projector or overhead.  The class writes the sentences on paper.  I then solicit the class to volunteer which errors they see.  This is a great activity to begin class.  It allows for a smooth segue to English class, and it offers a great review of grammar for the SATs.

This activity is CCSS aligned as it demonstrates command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

SAT Question of the Day

10 minutes

Teacher uses the attached link to show the SAT Question of the Day on the projector.  Teacher engages students in a whole-class discussion on finding strategies to answer the question.

Unit 1 Vocabulary Review

5 minutes

Each student is assigned a vocabulary word from an assigned list (Unit 1 Vocabulary).  Students will look up their word in the dictionary and create a flashcard.  I will explain the difference between connotation (meaning associated with the word) and denotation (the exact meaning of the word.)  Students will create a flashcard with the following information:

  • One side: Visual representing the meaning of the word
  • Second side: 

                     Latin and Greek Roots

                     part of speech

                     Connotation: "What does word sound like?"

                     Denotation: exact meaning of word

                     Write the word in a sentence demonstrating proper usage.

Students will present their flashcard to the class, noting all the listed information.  Flashcards will be reviewed each day in a whole-class activities.  I will ask students to recall information on flashcard.

Additionally, students should learn a few words a night as an on-going homework assignment.

1920s Presentations Test

15 minutes

Following the completion of the 1920s presentations, students take an open-notebook test on the presentations.  The purpose of the test is to again review the significant historical attributes associated with The Great Gatsby and to provide students with an opportunity to hone their note-taking skills.  As previously noted, I encourage students to use the two-sided notes format with a main idea in one column on athe page and details on the other.

In a more practical sense, note-taking keeps students attentive during the presentations.  Those students who take notes and are attentive always perform well.  Those who are inattentive and don't take notes often fail the test.  Essentially, this assessment favors the motivated student.

Character Notebook: Chapter 7

25 minutes

This section of the lesson provides a review of significant quotes from Chapter 7. The text evidence that I have provided present all those instances in the text where Gatsby's dream receives a significant blow.  Again, I ask students to comb through the chapter and find examples that indicate Gatsby's dreams are going to crash.  Once I begin a discussion with students regarding their evidence I run through the slides.

For example, the first slide says, "I don't think he ever believed in its existence before."  I ask students to consider why Daisy's daughter is such a shock to Gatsby.  The answer of course is it represents a consummation of Daisy and Tom's marriage, and Pammy, their daughter, will always be the permanent connection between the two.  Daisy will never be able to permanently erase her marriage to Tom because it produced a child.  The slide that reads, “So I walked away and left him standing there in the moonlight—watching over nothing,” indicates that Gatsby has pretty much wasted he time with Daisy.  I ask students to read the quote and consider the word "nothing"--what double meaning does it have?  Essentially, Gatsby's relationship with Daisy is "nothing."

Students view the slides and provide an explanation as to what they learn about Daisy and Gatsby from the text.  Students then write a response as to whether Gatsby truly loves Daisy or the wealth she represents.  Students also consider the information from Daisy's point of view:  Does she love Gatsby or his new affluence?  Students must provide text evidence to support their answers.  Additionally, they are asked to somehow connect Daisy to the slide and Gatsby's demise.

Students work with a partner in a collaborative learning activity.  Each pair elects a scribe to write down the answer and a spokesperson to present their findings to the class.  A whole-class discussion ensues with students debating whether or not they agree with the pair's interpretation of the slide.  Student pairs will take turns presenting their information.  I have students work in pairs because of the complexity of the assignment and I want them to work through it with a peer.

T.S. Eliot: "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" Notes

10 minutes

To expand students exposure to the works of the Modernist era, I begin with notes on T.S. Eliot.  Students will read "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" for homework and answer questions associated with the poem. 

Students will also mark up their copy of the poem with annotations indicating how the poem reflects the ideals of the Modernist era and whether any similarities exist between Prufrock and Gatsby.  Students also reflect on what Eliot could possible be saying about the pursuit of the American Dream.

Correct responses to the relationship between Prufrock and the Modernist era will focus on Prufrock's feeling of hopelessness and perceived feeling of helplessness.  These emotions are of course reflected in many works of the era as America was coming to terms with the horrors experienced during World War I.


Students will read "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and answer questions and prompts discussed in class.