This week we left behind the horrors of The Jungle only to discover the horrors of The Great War! World War 1 changed American life in ways that still profoundly affect us today, and an examination of those effects continues to be revelatory. From the common expression many of us use, “over the top,” (adopted from trench warfare) to the dilemma of every new technology eventually becoming just another weapon, we see how the modernity of the 20th Century ushered in a new way of life that was a turning point.
The Jazz Age could be interpreted as a direct rebuke of the devastation of the war. The excess and excessive consumption we have already witnessed in the first three chapters of The Great Gatsby are proof. However, we noticed that while the characters in Sinclair’s The Jungle did not have enough money and things, our protagonists in Fitzgerald’s Gatsby have too much. The result is that the texts have a startling sameness as we witness characters like Tom and Daisy Buchanan sigh and yawn through a life more dead than alive.
Before reading, we did some pre-writing about themes and concepts we would encounter in the novel . . .
We had some fun with metaphors and similes to review character, setting, and plot . . .
We are also working with Media Lit on the 2013 film version of The Great Gatsby. Included here (if you haven’t already seen them!) are some of the reflections on the film . . .
Lastly, we took a moment to discuss the deluge of current events from the last few weeks by watching excerpts from Donald Trump’s Congressional Address and the responses to the speech from Democrats, Republicans, pundits, and everyday regular taxpayers. We defined what “presidential” meant to us and decided if the demeanor, words/phrases, gestures, references, and topics from the speech were or were not presidential by our own individual standards . . .
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.
“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
–F. Scott Fitzgerald from The Great Gatsby