The Great Gatsby immediately comes to mind when one thinks of the 1920's. It is the quintessential novel of the period, and in the view of many, in the whole of American literature. In fact, Thomas C. Foster, Professor of English at the University of Michigan, Flint, wrote in How to Read Literature Like a Professor that if "all of American literature consisted of only one book, and that book were The Great Gatsby, it might be enough." The Great Gatsby was first published by Scribner's in 1925.
Before we study The Great Gatsby, I think it will be helpful to learn about the context of the novel. You will complete an online Treasure Hunt, an introduction to the novel. You will be given a study guide, but if you lose it, you may download additional copies:
- F. Scott Fitzgerald Centenary Homepage
- PSU: Jazz Age Culture
- CSI, CUNY: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
- Centers of Interest in The Great Gatsby: A Reader's Companion Site
- The Great Gatsby: A Beginner's Guide
- Homework Online: The Great Gatsby
- SparkNotes: The Great Gatsby
- The Great Gatsby (a searchable online version)
- The Great Gatsby Study Guide, Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District
- Wikipedia: The Great Gatsby
- An Index to The Great Gatsby
- West Springfield High School: The Great Gatsby
- Jana Edwards' The Great Gatsby
The GREAT GATSBY Treasure Hunt!
Follow the directions given for each section. Answer thoroughly in complete sentences on your own paper. Do not "cut and paste.” Rephrase the answers in your own words.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Skim the biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald. What are the major influences on his life and writing?
World War I
After the war ended, the economy skyrocketed, making it possible for people to spend more time and money on leisure activities. Review the website in this section. What are three major innovations that came out of the WWI experience?
After the War: What are the dominant postwar American attitudes and the major movements of the 1920's? Pay close attention to the attitudes of the "Lost Generation" and the "Prosperity & Consumerism" movement.
What right did women gain from the passage of the 19th Amendment?
The Roaring Twenties
List three major events that occurred in 1922 (the year in which the novel is set).
What exactly does the amendment abolish? What was the result?
Wikipedia: Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
What is a Speakeasy? Based on information you have already collected from previous questions, why do you think Speakeasies popped up across the country?
Organized Crime and Arnold Rothstein
Arnold "The Big Bankroll" Rothstein: What are three elements of Rothstein's biography that interest you? Explain.
The Mob's Greatest Unsolved Hits: Arnold Rothstein: What is the most interesting thing you learned in this article that was not in the previous article? Explain.
Did your impression of Rothstein change from one web page to the next? Explain.
Read the first five paragraphs of the article about "Flapper Jane." According to the author, what are the essential elements of being a true flapper?
After reading the article, look at the selected photos of Louise Brooks. Does she fit the "Flapper" profile as proposed by the author of "Flapper Jane"? Why or why not?
Read Dorothy Parker's poem "The Flapper." How does Ms. Parker feel about Flappers? Explain.
Why were cars considered "the most important catalyst for social change in the 1920's"?
The Rise of Automobiles
Photos of 1920's era automobiles.
Gatsby Coachworks: Reproductions of 1920's era automobiles. The white and gold car is similar to what Jay Gatsby would have driven.
Listen to the music on the Spotify music player to the right (click on the track with your mouse). You may need to download or log in to Spotify. If the embedded playlist doesn't work, try this direct link to the playlist.
As you listen, record your thoughts and reactions to the songs.
- Read some 1920's slang terms.
- Select your five favorite slang words and copy them down.
- Why did you choose these terms?