The Great Gatsby: Finish

The Great Gatsby: Finish
Theme: Corruption of the
American Dream:
The passage on page 189:
Fitzgerald paints a picture of the
American Dream at its height,
suggesting that subsequent
versions of the dream could only
be realized in America’s
increasingly corrupt materialism.
That materialism is represented
by the “inessential houses” that
clutter the once-pure landscape.
“Gatsby becomes an archetypal
figure who betrays and is
betrayed by the promises of
America.” – biographer Matthew
The Great Gatsby: Finish
The passage on pages 183-84:
This represents an abrupt
shift in the narrative from the
bleakness of the present to
nostalgia for the past.
It reemphasizes the contrast
between illusion and reality.
The Midwest, which Nick was
glad to leave, now seems to
him to be safe and happy and
filled with camaraderie,
especially compared to
Gatsby’s rainy, bare funeral.
The Great Gatsby
Consider this final statement from Nick in Chapter
9 (the last question on your Chapter 9 study
“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic
future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded
us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will
run faster, stretch out our arms farther … And one
fine morning – so we boat on, boats against the
current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” (189).
Why is this quote significant to the theme of the
American Dream in this novel?
The Great Gatsby
Gatsby’s struggle is related to his idealism; his faith in life’s possibilities, which is at
the core of the American Dream: Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic
future that year by year recedes before us.
Daisy represents a way of life which is so different from Gatsby’s and, thus, more
attractive because it is out of reach.
Gatsby struggles to fit into another social group, but he is also obsessed with doing
so because his whole faith in life depends on it. His whole career, confidence in
himself, and confidence in life is shattered when he fails to win Daisy.
His death is almost insignificant; he is already spiritually dead when his dream
This spiritual death also applies to the corruption of values, which is also related to
the American Dream. Nick recalls the early idealism of the first settlers: an idealism
that has been replaced by materialism, greed and spiritual emptiness.
Fitzgerald stresses the need for hope and dreams to give meaning and purpose to
our efforts: Tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther … And one fine
morning –
Gatsby, with his “extraordinary gift of hope,” seems to achieve a heroic greatness,
especially when compared to the empty existence of Tom and Daisy Buchanan.
The Great Gatsby
Yet, there is something almost pitiful about the
way Gatsby refuses to grow up: to attempt the
impossible by repeating the past: So we boat on,
boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly
into the past.” (189).
In the end, the failure of hopes and dreams – of
Gatsby’s failed dreams of Daisy, of the American
Dream itself – is unavoidable. It bears repeating
that reality cannot keep up with ideals because
ideals are usually too fantastic to be realized in the
first place.
The Great Gatsby: Finish
In August, 1924, Fitzgerald
wrote, “That’s the whole
burden of this novel – the
loss of those illusions that
give such color to the
world so that you don’t
care whether things are
true or false as long as
they partake of the
magical glory.”
The Great Gatsby: Exam Review
CHARACTERIZATION: Know each character, their key actions, and key
 Example: “I don’t want you to get a wrong idea of me from all these
stories you hear.”
You will have a series of questions or descriptions with a number after
each one. That number represents how many characters from the
provided list fit that question or description.
 Example: Is mentioned in the title of the book (1).
DETAILS: Recognize the significance of Fitzgerald’s descriptive,
sensory details. How do those details help paint a picture? What do
they show? Review Chapter 3 carefully.
The Great Gatsby: Exam Review
SYMBOLISM Understand what cars symbolize in the novel.
identify flashback, dialogue, symbol, irony, description.
Example: The green light at the end of Daisy Buchanan’s dock: _____.
VOCABULARY: Review the lists; there will be 7 words in
matching format.
THEME: Be able to analyze potential thematic concepts
we’ve covered in the PowerPoint notes, such as hope,
illusion, paradox, corruption of the American Dream.
The Great Gatsby: Exam Review
There will be an essay question asking you to compare and
contrast plot, themes, and characters in “Winter Dreams,”
The Great Gatsby, and “The Sensible Thing.”
Look for parallels between the three. Determine how the
two short stories serve as blueprints for Gatsby,
particularly in how they address hopes, dreams, and love.
You can use the book and the short stories for the essay
answer, so expectations will be high.
The Great Gatsby: Exam review
In your essay analyses:
Reference specific passages from the works to support your points
when possible. For example, use Nick’s words to help prove your
point about Gatsby’s “greatness”: “It was an extraordinary gift for
hope” (6).
Complete your thoughts. If you state that you agree with Nick’s
assertion that you can’t repeat the past, finish that thought by
stating how that connects to Gatsby, i.e., “It was this ill-fated and
stubborn clinging to the past – a past that never really existed in
the first place – that doomed Gatsby’s dream of Daisy and, by
extension, his version of the American Dream. His inability and
unwillingness to look ahead, instead of behind, meant he would
always be purposely drifting, boating against the currents of the
past instead fording the promise of the future.
The Great Gatsby: Exam review
Make your observations, but then link them to
the novel: “The American Dream is an illusion,
instead of something that can be achieved and
obtained. This is the dynamic at work for Gatsby.
His American Dream is contingent upon an
illusion of Daisy, rather than the reality of her: an
illusion that can never be achieved, especially
given Daisy’s vacuous lack of purpose.”

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