PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

Grade 8 Humanities: Week of 4/3/17 Who Wears a Suit on a Soup Line?


Dear Families,

As we finish our work on The Great Gatsby and the Roaring 20s, we simultaneously start our examination of the events precipitating The Great Depression. First we looked at the photo at the top of this blog post and asked questions about dressing up to wait on a bread/soup line. Answers ranged from “standards of formal dress were different 100 years ago” to “you never know what network connections you might make when you leave the house (especially important if you are looking for a job)” to “the working class had two sets of clothes: work uniform and formal. No one had leisure clothing if they had no leisure time.” So, we left the polo shirts and Bermuda shorts behind for Tom Buchanan and the other East Eggers to enjoy.

Wrapping up on The Great Gatsby means finding the perfect phrasing for the conclusions for our essays. We don’t want a rehash of our introductions, and yet the conclusion must circle back to the ideas in the introduction. We want to confirm what was proven or accomplished by the paper, but we want to avoid reactionary “I” statements, editorializing, and what we’ve come to term, “tour guide language” (‘As you can see, over here, Gatsby sacrifices himself for a dream that never existed and if you move a little further to your left, you can see a tear in his eye”) in favor of academic reflection based on the evidence we have deployed to support our thesis ideas . . .

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And don’t forget, book covers and essays are due next week. When we return from spring break, we will be starting “Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare 🙂


Ms. Sacilotto



“THE OWNERS OF THE land came onto the land, or more often a spokesman for the owners came. They came in closed cars, and they felt the dry earth with their fingers, and sometimes they drove big earth augers into the ground for soil tests. The tenants, from their sun-beaten dooryards, watched uneasily when the closed cars drove along the fields. And at last the owner men drove into the dooryards and sat in their cars to talk out of the windows. The tenant men stood beside the cars for a while, and then squatted on their hams and found sticks with which to mark the dust. In the open doors the women stood looking out, and behind them the children— corn-headed children, with wide eyes, one bare foot on top of the other bare foot, and the toes working. The women and the children watched their men talking to the owner men. They were silent. Some of the owner men were kind because they hated what they had to do, and some of them were angry because they hated to be cruel, and some of them were cold because they had long ago found that one could not be an owner unless one were cold. And all of them were caught in something larger than themselves. Some of them hated the mathematics that drove them, and some were afraid, and some worshiped the mathematics because it provided a refuge from thought and from feeling. If a bank or a finance company owned the land, the owner man said, The Bank—or the Company— needs—wants—insists—must have—as though the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and feeling, which had ensnared them. These last would take no responsibility for the banks or the companies because they were men and slaves, while the banks were machines and masters all at the same time. Some of the owner men were a little proud to be slaves to such cold and powerful masters. The owner men sat in the cars and explained. You know the land is poor. You’ve scrabbled at it long enough, God knows.”

from The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck