Passing Judgement: Evaluating Jay Gatsby

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SWBAT analyze the development of the character of Gatsby as presented in different media by viewing and discussing portrayals of "The Great Gatsby" films.

Big Idea

Nick may be inclined to reserve judgement, but today we judge Jay Gatsby to wrap up the novel.

Introduction & Welcome: It's National Something on a Stick Day!

10 minutes

We open class today with a welcome to "National Something on a Stick" Day, asking students to share their favorite or most unusual experience with street food/fair food in order to get students active in class and engaged, as it is the last day before Spring Break starts. In this conversation, students take the topic, qualifying or justifying their own views on favorites while responding thoughtfully to others' differing perspectives on food (SL.9-10.1d).

While we're on the topic of food, we wrap our Friday Favorite Girl Scout Cookie Madness poll, voting between the top two: Samoas and Thin Mints. As with the Daily Holidays, Friday Favorite votes serve to build a sense of community and trust within the classroom, encouraging students to share their thoughts and participate in a wide range of discussions, build on others' ideas, express their own ideas clearly (SL.9-10.1). In addition, the practice developing and supply evidence for their claims--even in an informal situation--should translate to students' writing as we develop more critical and evaluative pieces this semester (W.9-10.1b). (Samoas would edge out Thin Mints in the end.)

Movie Clips: Scenes Worth Discussing

30 minutes

In order to wrap up our look at "The Great Gatsby" in film and print, I select a few key scenes for students to analyze in two different artistic mediums, including a look at what is emphasized or absent in each treatment (RL.9-10.7). The scenes all address Jay Gatsby, as students will analyze how Gatsby's motivations are portrayed to develop over the course of the films, how he interacts with other characters, and how he advance the plot, and how he develop the theme of wanting to recapture the past (RL.9-10.3). The scenes are:

In the 1974 film, Daisy, Gatsby, and Nick in Gatsby's house, from Klipspringer's introduction to Daisy's infamous line, "I've never seen such beautiful shirts," and in the 2013 film, the same. 

In each of the films (1974, 2000, and 2013), Gatsby and George Wilson's deaths. 

Student Reactions: Exit Discussion

15 minutes

Once we have watched all of the clips, I pass out the Exit Slip for the day and ask students their reactions to Gatsby as a character (W.9-10.10). Drawing from Nick's opening comment, that he tends to reserve judgement, I ask students to so exactly what Nick does, but claims he does not: to judge Gatsby. (Somewhat informally, I tend to word this as, "Is Jay Gatsby a dreamer, a hopeless romantic, a creepy stalker, a criminal mastermind, or something else?" The wording is actually taken from a prior class conversation, when two groups of students got into a debate of how to read Jay Gatsby, and if the reader/viewer is supposed to empathize, sympathize, or pity him. Although informal, the question catches the students' attention and gets them thinking about, and talking about, Gatsby, characterization, and the portrayals of him.) This whole class discussion allows students to draw upon their reading and viewing notes to drive the exchange of ideas (SL.9-10.1a), respond to each other's reaction in a way that connects to the broader analysis of Gatsby (SL.9-10.1c), and qualify, justify, or explain their reasoning and allows them to change their minds in light of ideas presented by their peers (SL.9-10.1d).

Wrapping Up

Given that it both our last day of "The Great Gatsby" and our last day before break (and I am not assigning homework over break), there is not closing comment or reminder for today. We will discuss Gatsby and student reactions until time winds down.