NEA Big Read
The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.

Teachers may consider the ways in which these activities may be linked to other Big Read community events. Most of these projects could be shared at a local library, a student assembly, or a bookstore.

  1. General Resolves: Have students create lists of their “general resolves” as Gatsby did in his copy of Hopalong Cassidy. Are the students’ resolves realistic and attainable? Are they consistent with what American culture expects of an educated young person?
  2. The American Dream: Have students write about their vision of the "American dream." If their American Dream is fulfilled, what will they be doing when they are Nick’s age (thirty)? Have students create portraits of themselves as adults who have realized the American dream. Alternatively, have students write monologues from the perspective of themselves as thirty-year-old adults who have achieved the American dream.
  3. Visual Art: Invite your school's visual arts specialist to assist students. Draw a portrait of a favorite character in The Great Gatsby. Other students can illustrate the inside and outside of Gatsby’s house, Nick’s house, or Tom’s house. Still others can create a version of the billboard with Dr. Eckleburg’s eyes. Team with a local bookstore to display the visual art.
  4. Parents’ Night: Have students choose a dramatic scene from the novel and draft a script using F. Scott Fitzgerald’s dialogue. Memorize the lines. Before each presentation, have a narrator explain the context of the scene. Then, have students act out the scene. After each scene, have a commentator explain why the students chose that particular scene.
  5. Courtroom Drama: Ask students to produce a scene in which they put one of the characters of The Great Gatsby on trial for murder. Who would go on trial and why? Does this require rewriting the ending of the novel? The scene can be produced at a student assembly; try to include a discussion session afterward.
  6. Retrospective: Explore the historical period of the 1920s by creating posters that provide in-depth information on what is happening in the following artistic communities: music and jazz, theatre, visual arts, photography, and dance. Display these posters in the school or classroom.
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