The Great Gatsby. The great Gatsby?

The Great Gatsby. The great Gatsby?

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby about America in the 1920s, when the fabulously wealthy flaunted their funds with lavish parties and opulent lifestyles. Many people, not fabulously wealthy, hitched their trains to these ‘stars’ and showed up, night after night, for parties with music and gin and late hours.


“And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”


Reading this novel


the great gatsbyOur older son was assigned this novel in his American Literature class. Cynthia likes to read novels alongside our sons, and enjoyed picking up this classic after reading it so many years ago.


It happened that Cynthia and Bill attended class with our son and saw a clever exercise his creative teacher used with students in their work. Perhaps your family is similar to ours – it is tough to help your children connect to characters in novels set in another time.

Billy’s teacher has found a way. She has students review the book’s four principal characters – narrator Nick Carraway, Tom and Daisy Buchanan, and the great Gatsby himself. In addition to the usual summary of character traits, she challenged students to connect with the characters in a modern way relevant to today’s students. She assigned to students the tasks of imagining a Twitter handle, Spotify playlist, or descriptive song for each character.




Cynthia’s picks for descriptive songs for characters in The Great Gatsby


Cynthia decided to go with choosing songs for each character.


She views Nick Carraway as a narrator similar to singer-songwriter Jack Johnson. Both men have the ability to weave penetrating observations about life into compelling stories. Upside Down by Jack Johnson represents Nick Carraway.


Tom Buchanan was tougher. Tom is certainly a party guy, focused on good times and managing both his wife and girlfriend on the side. But he is also shrewd and knows how to manage Daisy for keeps. In the end, I decided on Drink too Much by the Lacs.


Daisy was easier. Daisy floats along, never wanting to speak up and announce a decision, especially one that hurts someone’s feelings. She just wants to lie around, appearing beautiful and waiting for the next fun thing. Life without a brain? Well, that’s Mental Floss by Jimmy Buffett.


And for the great Gatsby himself? He is stuck in time, fixated forever on the one shining moment of his life when Daisy chose him. Alas, that moment is gone. But the great Gatsby will be there forever, in the 21st night of September of his life, by Earth Wind and Fire.


A coincidence: reading The Great Gatsby immediately after Crazy Rich Asians


Cynthia had just read Kevin Kwan’s adult novel Crazy Rich Asians when she was inspired to pick up The Great Gatsby. The juxtaposition of the two novels was so interesting. In both cases, she had to look up definitions for specific references to luxury items and luxury locations. In the end, she was tired of reading about material excess.


Cynthia’s song for herself, after reading these two novels last month, is Homegrown by Zac Brown Band.


“Live in a small town where it feels like home

I’ve got everything I need, and nothin’ that I don’t”


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