Chapter 8: The Holocaust Was Complete

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SWBAT identify the climax of The Great Gatsby through citing strong and thorough textual evidence.

Big Idea

Gatsby offers the ultimate sacrifice: his life.


Critics have often disputed the climax to The Great Gatsby.  There are several events that could qualify.  In this lesson, I would like students to consider the definition of climax and identify which event in the novel is the best representation.  Students will support their ideas with text evidence.  Additionally, as Chapter 8 unfolds, it becomes apparent that Gatsby has been cast as a Christ figure who sacrifices himself for Daisy.  Students take note of the references and share their ideas after the chapter is read.

I also continue delving into the Modernist poetry of the era by covering Ezra Pound's "The River Merchant's Wife."  I first introduce them to another Pound poem called "The Pact," which explores Pound's view of Walt Whitman, and it also showcases the stark realities felt by many Modernist poets after World War I.

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 (L 11-12 2) as it demonstrates command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

SAT Question of the Day

10 minutes

To continue with SAT prep as I am encouraged by my department head, I consult with College Board to pull up the SAT Question of the Day.  I put the question on the overhead and as a whole-class discussion we look at clues within the questions to lead us to the correct answer.  We also discuss why the answer is correct.  Lastly, we look for strategies to help students find the correct answers.  The link below will lead to the question of the day.  It changes daily and it is sometimes math.  If the question is not ELA, I will go to a weekend date and search for an ELA question.

Unit 1 Vocabulary Review

10 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.  This assignment aligns with standard L 11-12 6.

Round Robin Read of Chapter 8

30 minutes

The class will read the novel together in a whole-class read.  Students or teacher may choose a popsicle stick to identify the next reader.  Sometimes students love the power of choosing the popsicle stick.  It adds some drama to the reading.

As students read, they will take note (text evidence) in their notebooks of any references that present Gatsby as a Christ figure.  I bait them with the Christ figure reference because I want them to close read the text.  My experience has been that students have a difficult time extracting this kind of imagery from a text. They usually are way off in their examples; therefore, I point out the passage where Gatsby "shouldered the mattress and started for the pool," which can be interpreted in the same light as Jesus carrying the cross at his crucifixion.  Students then add to my example with Gatsby sacrificing himself to save Daisy.  It really becomes an "a-ha" moment.  This part of the assignment aligns with RL 11-12 1.

Secondly, since The Great Gatsby has so many events that can qualify as the climax or high point of suspense," students will identify which event in the novel is the best representation of the work's climax.  Students will explain their answers and draw upon text evidence to support their ideas.  There responses vary from Daisy saying she loved Gatsby "too" to the murder of Myrtle.  Also, Gatsby's murder tops the three most common answers. This part of the assignment aligns with RL 11-12 5.

Students will share their notes in a class discussion the next day.

Ezra Pound, "The River Merchant's Wife" Notes

10 minutes

Continuing with my examination of poets from the Modernist era and their connection to writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, I assign the class "The River Merchant's Wife" to read for homework.  Students will read the poem and answer questions.  They will prepare for a class discussion the next day.

Before reading, I ask students to take notes on the poet Ezra Pound.  Then, I play the video rendition of Ezra Pound's "Pact."  I first ask students to tell me what they know about Walt Whitman?  Students cover the poet in freshman and sophomore year.  To faciliate their knowledge, I am prepared to offer some characteristics of Whitman's style such as free verse (the first to do so in American poetry) and a presentation of a Romantic/optimistic portrayal of the world.  I add how Whitman was considered a trailblazer in poetry back in the nineteenth century because he was one of the first poets to use free verse (no structure).

While watching the video, I ask students to take note of the images and dictators.  How do they represent Modernism and a rejection of Whitman's optimistic view?  Who are the dictators and their claim to fame? (Mussolini, Kaiser Wilhelm, Queen Victoria (not a dictator but she was strict), etc.

When Pound says Whitman "broke the new wood," what does he mean?  How does it relate to poetry?  Here, I want students to see that Whitman was a trailblazer in the same sense as Pound was one in the Modernist era.