Metaphor and Symbolism in The Great GatsbyThe Valley of Ashes / The American Dream Rollins AP Lang, Spring 2014
Symbolism • Symbol: a thing that represents or stands for something else, esp. a material object representing something abstract. • We assign meaning to symbols. Thus, the symbolic meanings of an object or action are understood depending on when, where, how, and by whom they are used. • For example, a chain could symbolize unity/strength or imprisonment. http://literarydevices.net/symbolism/
The Valley of Ashes • Read the article by Roger Starr. • What was the actual ‘valley of ashes’? What does it represent in The Great Gatsby? http://www.litkicks.com/InGatsbysTracks#.UuP-K9LnZdh
The American Dream • Read “Are the Rich Happy?” by Stephen Leacock • What is the ‘American dream’? • The dream, according to Fitzgerald: individualism, discovery, the pursuit of happiness • What is the ‘American dilemma’? • Consider the extravagance/excess of the Jazz Age
The American Dream in Gatsby • Discuss Nick’s attitude in chapter 9 • [Klipspringer] was one of those who used to sneer most bitterly at Gatsby on the courage of Gatsby’s liquor…” (169) • “After Gatsby’s death the East was haunted for me like that…” (168) • “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy…” (179) • How do Americans idealize ‘success’ (power/wealth/leisure)? • How does Gatsby idealize his dream (Daisy)? • How does the unworthiness of the objects ruin these dreams?
D’Angelo’s Book Club • Watch the clip from The Wire, beginning at 0:16 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DOy4hCih7w • What is Fitzgerald saying about 'The American Dream' in the ending of The Great Gatsby? • How do you interpret the final line of the novel? • “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly back into the past.” (180) • How would your opinion of the novel change if the book ended with Gatsby and Daisy living happily ever after? Although that ending might be a “happier” ending, would it be authentic? Would it make the book better? Why or why not?