Students read The Great Gatsby, evaluating Fitzgerald's critique of the American 1920s, as well as considering issues of social class and the impact of history and memory on individuals.
As students read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby, they will conduct in-depth character analysis of Gatsby and evaluate how Fitzgerald uses the character of Gatsby, as well as other literary devices, to comment on the society and values of the American 1920s. Students will consider issues of social class and the impact of history and memory on the lives of the characters as well as on our own.
While we do not typically take a stand on whether reading is done in class or at home, this particular unit is most suited to students reading the majority of the novel at home, allowing class time for analyzing key excerpts as well as writing about and discussing the text. If the teacher would like to read in class, she or he should allow for the number of lessons to be roughly double the estimate below.
This unit has three Supplementary AP Projects related to the theme of consumerism. In the first two projects, students will read multiple short documents and write a synthesis essay (similar to FRQ 1). Then, students will compose responses to the FRQ 3 essay prompt from the 2005 AP English Language and Composition Exam. The emphasis of this third project will be developing and communicating an informed opinion on the topic of wealth inequality. To learn more about including these Supplemental AP Projects in this English 12 unit, please see our Guide to Supplemental AP Language and Composition Projects.
Some of the links below are Amazon affiliate links. This means that if you click and make a purchase, we receive a small portion of the proceeds, which supports our non-profit mission.
Book: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Scribner, 2004)
Article: “"The Great Gatsby": Thirty-Six Years After” by A.E. Dyson (JSTOR)
Article: “8 Ways 'The Great Gatsby' Captured the Roaring Twenties - And Its Dark Side” by Sarah Pruitt (History.com)
Article: “Gatsby's Green Light Beckons a New Set of Strivers” by Sara Rimer (New York Times)
Movie: The Great Gatsby by Baz Luhrmann, 2013
This assessment accompanies Unit 5 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
Students will produce short written responses to each target task question in this unit. The focus is for students to produce short pieces that show a commitment to the task, purpose, and audience. This requires that they succinctly articulate their claim and provide brief but compelling evidence from the text(s) to support their analysis.
first-person narration, characterization, metaphor, irony, symbol, allusion, foreshadowing, motif, theme
ol- (olfactory), som- (somnambulatory)
Chapters 1–3: feign (1), levity (1), privy (1), elation (2), supercilious (7), fractiousness (7), unobtrusively (12), irreverently (9), cynical (16), peremptorily (19), involuntarily (21), transcendent (23), impenetrable (23), sumptuous (25), countenance (29), inexhaustible (35), innuendo (40), contemptuous (42), staid (44), florid (48), jaunty (52), subterfuge (58)
Chapters 4–6: incredulous (66), olfactory (68), somnambulatory (69), inconceivable (92), vitality (95), contemptuous (98), conceit (99), antecedents (101), ingratiate (101), lethargic (106), euphemism (106), incalculable (108), incarnation (111)
Chapters 7–9: obscurely (113), cynically (116), inexhaustible (120), boisterously (121), contingency (121), incredulous (122 & 129), inviolate (125), precipitately (125), disquieting (125), invariably (136), incessantly (138), truculent (140), indiscernible (148), interminable (154), conceivably (158), amorphous (161), elocution (173), complacent (176), transitory (180)
Chapters 1–4: Great War (3), John D. Rockefeller (27), Fifth Avenue (28), Town Tattle (29), Gilda Gray (41), Follies (41), Von Hindenburg (61), Oxford (65), 1919 World Series (73), debut (75), Armistice (75), Coney Island (83), Trimalchio (113), medium (122), Hopalong Cassidy (173)
“8 Ways 'The Great Gatsby' Captured the Roaring Twenties”
The Great Gatsby — Chapter 1
Identify contradictions present in 1920s society and evaluate how these contradictions are revealed in the opening chapter of the novel.
The Great Gatsby — Chapters 1 and 2
Analyze the key diction used to characterize the setting as well as the major characters: Nick, Daisy, Tom, Jordan, etc.
Compare how Nick, Daisy, Tom, Jordan, etc., are characterized versus how Gatsby is characterized.
The Great Gatsby — Chapters 1-3
Identify details from chapter 3 that can support assertions about Gatsby’s character.
Analyze how Fitzgerald develops the symbolic meaning of cars in the novel.
The Great Gatsby — Chapter 4
Identify details from chapter 4 that can support our assertions about Gatsby’s character.
The Great Gatsby — Chapters 5 and 6
“Gatsby's Green Light”
Analyze Fitzgerald’s characterization of Gatsby and his development of theme in chapters 5 and 6.
The Great Gatsby — Chapter 7
Analyze Fitzgerald’s use of diction, characterization, and historical context to develop the themes of memory and social class.
The Great Gatsby — Chapters 8 and 9
Evaluate Fitzgerald’s use of foreshadowing and symbolism in the final chapters of the novel.
Discussion & Writing
The Great Gatsby — Entire novel
Evaluate the essential questions of the unit in the context of the novel.
Does the pursuit of self-interest benefit society? Explain your position by synthesizing information from both the cartoon "The Great GAPsby Society" and the novel The Great Gatsby. Your argument should be the focus of your paragraph. Use the cartoon and novel to develop your claim, but do not merely summarize them.
Consumerism is the preoccupation of a society with the acquisition of goods. A capitalist economy such as that of the United States of America relies on the purchasing of goods and services by consumers for the economy to grow, but some believe consumerism has gone too far. Throughout the history of this country, consumer demand has had an impact, both positive and negative, on the economic and social order of the country.
Carefully read the following six sources. Then synthesize the material from at least three of the sources and incorporate them into a coherent, well-developed essay that defends, challenges, or qualifies the notion that American consumerism is a crisis.
Your argument should be the focus of your essay. Use the sources to develop your argument and explain your reasoning. Avoid merely summarizing the sources. Indicate clearly which sources you are using, whether through direct quotation or summary.
For this project, we ask students to debate and write a response to a question from the released 2005 AP English Language and Composition Exam. We are unable to reproduce the content here; however, teachers can find the question at the link below.