READ GATSBY-DISCUSS GATSBY is the blog to go to if you are part of The Big Read. In addition to Vigo County, Indiana, the following communities have been selected to participate in The Big Read and have chosen The Great Gatsby as the book they will be reading: Libertyville, IL, Sioux City, IA, Craven, Pamlico and Carteret counties of NC, Newark, OH and Charlottesville, VA. All are invited to post comments and questions on The Great Gatsby and The Big Read on this blog. At READ GATSBY-DISCUSS GATSBY we agree with F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Either you think, or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you.”

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Gatsby’s Green Light Beckons -- Oh, Really?

New York Times
February 17, 2008
Gatsby’s Green Light Beckons a New Set of Strivers

BOSTON — Jinzhao Wang, 14, who immigrated two years ago from China, has never seen anything like the huge mansions that loomed over Long Island Sound in glamorous 1920s New York. But F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel, “The Great Gatsby,” with its themes of possibility and aspiration, speaks to her.

She is inspired by the green light at the end of the dock, which for Jay Gatsby, the self-made millionaire from North Dakota, symbolizes the upper-class woman he longs for. “Green color always represents hope,” Jinzhao said.

“My green light?” said Jinzhao, who has been studying “Gatsby” in her sophomore English class at the Boston Latin School. “My green light is Harvard.”

Some educators say the best way to engage racially and ethnically diverse students in reading is with books that mirror their lives and culture. But others say that while a variety of literary voices is important, “Gatsby” — still required reading at half the high schools in the country — resonates powerfully among urban adolescents, many of them first- and second-generation immigrants, who are striving to ascend in 21st-century America.

“They all understand what it is to strive for something,” said Susan Moran, who is the director of the English program at Boston Latin and who has been teaching “Gatsby” for 32 years, starting at South Boston High School, “to want to be someone you’re not, to want to achieve something that’s just beyond reach, whether it’s professional success or wealth or idealized love — or a 4.0 or admission to Harvard.”
For full story go here

Robinson G. Meyer wasn’t buying all this striving.
To the Editor:

''The Great Gatsby'' is no Great American Fable of accomplished dreams; it is a cautionary tragedy. Its characters discard their morals to attain pleasure or to quench their ambitions, and, by the novel's end, they all wind up hollow and disaffected.

As a high school junior, I see many students make the same mistakes today. In the pursuit of the false happiness that a Harvard acceptance will bring, students' ethical standards buckle. They cheat on tests. They lie on résumés. They live by mottos like ''Get Rich or Die Tryin'.'' Then, suffering from the same malaise as the characters in ''Gatsby,'' they fry brain cells over the weekend.

This is why I am extremely dismayed that Boston Latin students interpreted F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece to be ''inspirational'' and ''hopeful.''

''The Great Gatsby'' is our greatest testament to the perils of the American Dream, and my favorite book. Have they missed its point?

Robinson G. Meyer
Pennington, N.J., Feb. 18, 2008
And all this raises again the question of great literature being about maps or growth.


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