The Great Gatsby Chapter One
Learning Objectives Demonstrate understanding and knowledge of the main characters from chapter one Be able to identify quotations which give the reader a clear insight into the characters Consider the importance of setting in the novel and how this further establishes the characters
The Great Gatsby Set in a 3 month period Main location is Long island, New York State but does occasionally move to Manhattan Set during the Jazz Age in the 1920’s
Chapter One - Summary Nick establishes his reason for recording events. He establishes setting – East Coast/Summer/1922. He asserts the qualities he has for recording the story yet contradicts himself. His style of prose is both lyrical, dense but also efficient. Establishes his own family background. We meet some of the main protagonists. He alludes to Gatsby but we do not meet him directly, thereby maintaining a sense of an enigma. Importantly, he reveals that he has returned to the West in order to process the events of this summer.
Fitzgerald invents this character to write the novel - written as an autobiographical account of events taking place over a 3 month period in the summer of 1922. “I am inclined to reserve all judgements” “Reserving judgement is a matter of infinite hope” “I wanted the word to be in uniform” Contradicts himself throughout. Is a stockbroker yet admires romantic sensibilities.
Nick’s Function Both observed and participant. Be aware of not only what he discloses about others, but also about himself. What are his values and ideals? We must keep this in mind as he is not an impartial narrator!
Group Discussion Questions 1) Having read the first few paragraphs of the novel, what do you know about Nick’s personality? 2) According to Nick, what was a particularly unusual aspect of Gatsby’s character, given the pessimism of the time? Include the quotation. 3) At the start of the novel Nick’s father reminds him that not everyone has had his advantages. Describe Nick, list his advantages, and detail the facts you know about him. 4) Do you consider Nick to be a “good” narrator? Justify your response.
Character Work Each group has been given a character and your task is to record quotations ideas, impressions and opinions of this character throughout the novel. Draw a body on your page. Write the character’s name at the top of the paper and begin finding details to add to your character.
Character Information Head = what you think about that character, first impressions, justifications from the text, words used to describe their personality. Mouth = speech bubbles, important quotations from that character. Heart = important relationships the character has, quotations which highlight this. Around the body = additional information, quotations you wish to add.
Characters Be prepared to present your information to the rest of the class.
Daisy and Tom Buchanan As a group discuss the above relationship. Think about the following: What are your first impressions of Daisy? Think about how Nick describes her and choose 3 main quotations and expand on them. What type of man is Tom? Justify your response. How do they support/contradict the “American Dream”?
Daisy “turbulent emotions possessed her” “breathless thrilling words” “face was sad, and lonely” “absurd, charming little laugh” “low thrilling voice” Dressed in white! Connotations…
Daisy – First Impressions Insubstantial, unable to be held onto. She comes across simultaneously as somewhat false but also truthful (“I hope she’ll be a fool”). Daisy’s main flaw is that she is intelligent enough to see how aimless and shallow her entire existence is yet won’t do anything to change. Her growth as a human has literally been halted and she is indeed p-paralysed. Almost immediately we are made aware that Tom is having an affair, reinforcing a central theme that everything from the outside looks perfect but the real truth is far from perfection.
Daisy First Impressions “Our beautiful white girlhood” Daisy’s only redeemable feature is her willingness to scoff and undermine her husband’s racism. Her sarcastic remarks about her ‘beautiful white girlhood’ deliberately mocks his fecklessness and stupidity. “I hope she’ll be a fool…a beautiful. ” Her relationship with her daughter seems empty of natural affection and empathy but she has enough intelligence to accept that her life is meaningless and she doesn’t want her daughter to realise that her life will be the same. “I’m p-paralysed with happiness” Seems to be a contradiction. Shows how lifeless she is and has so little energy to show any real feelings.
Easily influenced and is driven by fear about losing his wealth and title. “Standing with his legs apart” – alpha male, masculine stance. “rather hard mouth” Intellectually challenged. Doesn’t have the mental capacity to digest information properly. “cruel body” “The Rise of the Coloured Empire” – Tom’s favourite book. Racist propaganda.
“I’ve been lying on that sofa for as long as I can remember” Reinforces the lack of motivation and paralysis present in the East Eggers. Almost overwhelmed by their apathy.
Group Discussion Questions 1) What imagery is used to introduce the characters of Daisy and Jordan? 2) What colour is used in conjunction with these women and what might this suggest about their characters? 3) Explain the contrast between Tom and Daisy.
Setting – Learning Intentions Understand the importance of setting in ‘The Great Gatsby’ Show these settings relate to theme of “The American Dream” Identify other themes which arise from chapter one and the different settings
Entrance Ticket In your own words, explain what you think a class system is. Provide examples of different classes. Give your opinion about class and whether you think it still exists today.
Setting Chapter one introduces the reader to the two main settings: West Egg and East Egg. These settings are very important as they help to establish the characters and also link in with the main themes of the novel. They are also symbolic of different class systems in America (the supposedly classless society).
TASK ONE Find two quotes which describe each Egg and explain what they tell you about the setting. Explain what these two settings symbolise in terms of class and The American Dream.
West Egg and East Egg Chapter one introduces the reader to both West Egg and East Egg and establishes the symbolic significance of both. West Egg represents ‘new money’, ostentatious and mock, whereas East Egg represents ‘old money’, established and genuine. One represents the aspiring class, the other the established, upper middle-class.
The Eggs and the American Dream The eggs are fundamentally different – Nick refers to the ‘sinister contrast’ between them. East Egg (where Tom and Daisy live) is the fashionable suburb which houses families with long-established generations of wealth – the ‘royalty’ of New York. West Egg, by comparison is no less splendid: white palatial mansions are dotted along tree-lined avenues and Wealth is everywhere. The reason that West Egg is ‘less fashionable’ than its neighbour is because the inhabitants have not been born into well-established ‘money’ families. Gatsby – among others on West Egg – is part of the ‘nouveau riche’ that is, he has made his fortune from scratch, emerging from a natural state of poverty to become a ‘self-made man’.
ØAligns itself with American ideals. ØEmbodies the notion of the dream ØEmbodies old world ideals of patronage, class and heredity values. ØNew money lines in WE ØThey are the antithesis of ‘The Dream’ ØContains original spirit of The Land of Opportunity ØFull of emotionally stunted, aimless, shallow ideals.
Task Two In groups, discuss why such snobbery towards the nouveau riche exists in East Egg. Explain how this snobbery shows that the very idea of The American Dream is flawed.
Setting and The American Dream Snobbery exists because it is a class system within a class system – a reminder that, no matter how well you do in life, there will always be someone ‘above’ sneering at your efforts. This type of class division is particularly interesting in light of The American Dream. This dream relates to the idea of America as the Land of Opportunity, and states that any man (note man), if he is willing to work hard and improve himself, will find the means to do so there. One of the founding principles of the country is a firm belief in reward for hard work, and the idea of the Self Made Man is one which American values is fundamentally based. So the ideas that such ‘winners’ would be seen as second class citizens in East Egg is a reminder – if any were needed - that the American Dream is fundamentally flawed.
Gatsby and the Green Light At the edge of his dock, Gatsby is seen to be holding out his arms and trembling. He is gesturing towards a: Single green light, minute and far away coming from the edge of Daisy’s dock on East Egg. This light and Gatsby’s gesture has great symbolic resonance throughout the rest of the novel.
Symbolism Task In groups discuss what the light could symbolise. Think about: The connotations of the colour green The location of the light What you now know about the Eggs The enigma that is Gatsby
Symbolism It could represent money – green is the colour of money in America and this could be a symbol of “the dream” and achieving wealth. Alternatively, green can represent jealously and envy and this could indeed by applied to Gatsby’s desire to be part of East Egg society and to be just like them, while knowing that he will never be good enough. The light could also represent Daisy, like a beacon calling him forward and putting him under her spell. By placing this episode at the end of the chapter, Fitzgerald effectively foreshadows and delays Gatsby's introduction to the novel, and his obsession with Daisy Buchanan – indeed, by painting a comprehensively damning portrait of her character in this chapter, he questions the very wisdom of this love.
Main Themes East vs. West Old world vs. New world ideals The fallacy of the American Dream vs. the inherent hopefulness of it Illusion vs. reality