Gatsby Notes - Effingham County Schools

1896 – 1940
 Fitzgerald
was named after his distant
relative, Francis Scott Key.
 Fitzgerald was born into an upper middle
class family. He split his childhood between
New York and Minnesota.
 Fitzgerald attended three different
preparatory schools before entering
Princeton University in 1913.
Fitzgerald was a mediocre student at best and
spent more time in the Princeton Triangle Club
(a campus theatre group) than he spent on his
 In his senior year Fitzgerald dropped out of
school rather than flunk out.
 Upon dropping out he enlisted in the United
States Army after the United States entered
World War I.
 While in the army Fitzgerald wrote the novel The
Romantic Egoist. Though his writing was praised
the novel was rejected by publishers.
 The war ended shortly after Fitzgerald’s
 While
stationed at Camp Sheridan
(Montgomery, Alabama) Fitzgerald met
Zelda Sayre (1900 – 1948).
 Zelda was a member of Alabama society
and the daughter of an Alabama Supreme
Court judge.
 Fitzgerald took a job working in
advertising after the war and
became engaged to Zelda.
 Feeling that he could not support the
two Zelda broke off the engagement.
 Fitzgerald
moved back to Minnesota to work on
rejected novel The Romantic Egoist.
 He adapted the novel to This Side of Paradise.
 The novel was published later the same year and
became one of the most popular novels of the
 Fitzgerald became an instant celebrity and one
week after the release of the
novel, Zelda and Fitzgerald
married in NYC.
 In
1921, their only child Frances Scott
“Scottie” Fitzgerald was born.
 Having a child did not slow down their
extravagant lifestyle that included heavy
drinking and many parties.
 Fitzgerald is credited with creating the term
“The Jazz Age”, he and Zelda would attend
wild parties and spend time with many
popular celebrities of the time.
 When money began to run out, Fitzgerald
wrote and published short stories.
 Fitzgerald
was part of the American
literature movement known as Modernism.
 Modernism lasted from 1914 – 1945, the
period between the two world wars.
 Modernists felt that due to the war America
had lost it’s innocence, their literature was
marked with the idea of living for the
 Modernist
ideals coincided nicely with the
roaring twenties.
 Major Modernist authors include: Ernest
Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Zora Neale
Hurston, T.S. Eliot and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
 Fitzgerald belonged to a group of authors
known as the Expatriates. These were
American artists who disillusioned with
the break down of the American dream
spent a considerable amount of time in
 Zelda
experienced many breakdowns and was
eventually institutionalized.
 Fitzgerald remained married to her until her
death, but met and feel in love with movie
columnist, Sheilah Graham.
 He died in 1940. In many ways his death was
like Gatsby’s. He has slipped into virtual
oblivion and many of his obituaries were
condescending and focused on his hardships.
No friends were to be found.
 Published
in 1925.
 The Great Gatsby is based partially on
Fitzgerald’s own life. Connections can be
made between Fitzgerald and the title
character of Gatsby as well as the narrator of
the story.
 The story takes place in 1922, during the
roaring twenties.
 Nick
 Nick is the narrator of the story.
 Though the story is told from Carraway’s
point of view he attempts to be detached
from what is happening, however he is part
of the story.
 This poses a question for the reader: “Can
we totally trust Nick’s account of the story?”
 Jay
 Gatsby is the main character of the story.
 Little is known about Gatsby other than he
throws extravagant parties and has
accumulated a vast wealth.
 Daisy
 Daisy is Nick’s cousin (though a distant
 Daisy is married to Tom Buchanan.
 Daisy is the main female character in the
 Tom
 Tom is roughly the same age as Nick, the two
went to college together.
 Tom is a man of enormous wealth.
 Myrtle
 A woman considerably farther down the
social ladder than main characters such as
Tom or Gatbsy.
 A woman who has dreams bigger than what
she can actually attain.
 Mass-production
and chain stores drove down
 Concept of credit introduced
 Runaway consumer credit was part of the
cause of the Great Depression
 Americans spending more on entertainment
 Movies with sound available for the first
time- The Jazz Singer was the first
commercially-released “talkie”
 More
people living in cities that on farms for
the first time
 Politicians supported big businessdetrimental to small businesses and farmers
 Greed, desire to accumulate wealth quickly,
and a desire to “return to normalcy” after
WWI drove the nation to the stock market
 Prohibition
began on January 16, 1920
 President Coolidge (as a senator voted FOR
prohibition) kept the White House stocked
with illegal liquor
 Prohibition banned manufacture, sale, and
transport, not possession
 Speakeasies- patron had to “speak easy” to
get the doorman to let them in. Underground
drinking establishment where alcohol was
 Alcohol smuggled from Canada
 Home brewing was popular
Commercial wine only available through
government warehouses for “religious purposes”
 Whiskey available by prescription- over 1 million
gallons prescribed and consumed each year
 Discrepancy between law and actual practice
contributed to the widespread disdain for
authority that accompanied the soldiers home
after WWI
 Prohibition opened the door for organized crimeAL Capone
 Over time gangsters bribed elected officials to
keep quiet about their illegal affairs
 Allusions
to be studied:
Stoddard’s The Rising Tide of Color Against
White World Supremacy
Kaiser Wilhelm
Rosy Rosenthal
“Black Sox” team
 Fitzgerald
exposes but leaves undeveloped
three social issues:
Racism, domestic violence, and loosening of
moral standards
 Story
set in summer of 1922 near New York
City in the towns of East and West Egg.
 Fitzgerald known for imagistic and poetic
 Topics largely influenced by surroundings and
 Take notice of names, dates, and ages
Names to enhance character development
Dates and ages define beginning and ending of
the dreams and tie Fitzgerald’s life happenings to
those of Gatsby and the 1920s
 Motifs
(any element, subject, idea or
concept that is constantly present through
the entire body of literature) and symbols
used to develop the theme:
Geography- defines social stratification
Weather- reflects human conditions
Green light and eyes of T.J. Eckleburg- meaning
changes/signifies different things to different
characters and the reader
 In
order to fully appreciate the novel, it must
be examined in its full historical context as
the 1920s was an era of great change
 America
saw great growth ,change, and
prosperity as well as corruption.
 There was rampant materialism
 Post- WWI manufacturing flourished with
cars, radios, telephones, etc.
 Consumer goods flooded the market
 Professional sports grew in popularity
 Immigration increased drastically
 Threat of differing political ideas and the
loss of American jobs to foreigners created
an intense dislike of outsiders
 In
1919, the scandal with the World Series
involving the White Sox rocked the sports
The events of the series are often associated
with the Black Sox Scandal, when several
members of the Chicago
franchise conspiredwith gamblers to throw the
World Series games.
 Organized
crime makes an appearance during
the prohibition years
 Warren
Harding’s administration was plagued
by scandal and corruption
The 'Teapot Dome scandal' was a bribery incident that took place in
the United States from 1921 to 1924, during the administration
of President Warren G. Harding. Secretary of the Interior Albert Bacon
Fall had leased Navy petroleum reserves at Teapot
Dome in Wyoming and two other locations in California to private oil
companies at low rates without competitive bidding. In 1922 and 1923,
the leases became the subject of a sensational investigation by
Senator Thomas J. Walsh. Fall was later convicted of accepting bribes
from the oil companies and became the first Cabinet member to go to
Before the Watergate scandal, Teapot Dome was regarded as the
"greatest and most sensational scandal in the history of American
politics".[1] The scandal damaged the public reputation of the Harding
administration, which was already severely diminished by its poor
handling of the Great Railroad Strike of 1922 and the President's veto
of the Bonus Bill in 1922.[2]
 After
the 19th amendment granted women
the right to vote women challenged
traitional notions of femininity.
Bobbed their hair
Threw out corsets
Smoked and drank
Face of motherhood changed
Women who held factory jobs during the war
refused to return home
Death of the American Dream- All Americans are born with
equal opportunity to use their talents to improve their
economic standing and secure future happiness. Gatsby can be
seen as a critique of this ideal: He accumulates wealth but is
unable to secure happiness and social standing.
The Stratification
(the relative social position of persons in a given social group, category,
of Social Classes- Comparisons
between old, new, and no money. Each group has a specific
place in society and each group is represented by a
character(s) in the story.
geographical region or other social unit)
The Upper Class’ Lack of Integrity- Fitzgerald explores
characters, situations, settings, that depict a lack of integrity
among members of the upper class. (extramarital affairs,
dishonesty, lying, cruelty, carelessness, etc.)
Created by Lord Byron
Larger-than-life, flawed, and a rebel
Conflicting emotions and excessiveness moodiness
Passionate about a particular issue
Introspective and critical of himself
Struggles with sense of integrity
Has a troubled or mysterious past
Can be cynical, demanding, or arrogant
Is a loner
Fiercely independent and strongly individual
Exhibits self-destructive tendencies and behavior
 Created
by Aristotle
Rises to a high position and fall from it
Usually experiences utter desolation or death
Two forces are equally powerful: Tragic flaw (hamartia) and
Through the years this idea of fate has fallen away and people
believed individuals are in charge of their own destinies
About a decade after publication of the novel, Arthur Miller
(remember him?) suggested that the tragic flaw is simply the
attempt to gain, or regain, what the hero considers to be their
rightful status in society
Miller says the tragic hero exemplifies our “underlying fear of
being displaced…torn away from our chosen image of what or
who we are in this world.”