The second half of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby concerns these key issues in the novel:
  • Gatsby's past and how it relates to his life in West Egg
  • The shifting moral code of the 1920s
  • The American dream
  • Disenfranchised people

Post a message that responds to one of the following questions concerning these issues. Make sure to comment on a topic you haven't addressed previously. Remember to be specific in your response and to refer to the novel to support your ideas.

  • What have you learned about Gatsby's character, and how do you judge him — is he a failure, a romantic, a great man, or something else?
  • If Fitzgerald were alive today, would he find American society corrupted by materialism and a lack of morality? Or would he be impressed by the gains that the disenfranchised have made?
  • Daisy chooses not to make a statement that she always loved Gatsby and never loved Tom. Explain whether you agree or disagree with Daisy's decision, which essentially means she'll stop seeing Gatsby and stay married to Tom.
  • What is Fitzgerald's commentary on the American dream, and do you agree or disagree with his position?


As a follow-up posting, comment on whether you agree or disagree, and why, with another student's posting.

 
 
The first five chapters of The Great Gatsby give you a sense of what life in the Roaring Twenties was like for a variety of people.

This activity gives you a chance to extend your thinking about four key elements of the novel:
  • Gatsby's character
  • The shifting moral code of the 1920s
  • The American dream
  • People who are disenfranchised (deprived of access to the same rights or privileges as the wealthy).

Post two separate messages that each responds to one of the following questions. Remember to be specific in your response and refer to the novel to support your ideas.
  • What have you learned about Gatsby's character, and how do you think he gained his millions?
  • How does the shifting moral code of the 1920s compare to today's moral code?
  • What is your conception of the American dream, and how does it differ from the conception that Fitzgerald seems to be presenting in the novel?
  • Who are America's disenfranchised, according to Fitzgerald? In what ways has the quality of life and status of these people improved, and in what ways do they remain disenfranchised?

As a follow-up posting, comment on whether you agree or disagree, and why, with at least two other students' postings.


Take your time and be thorough.  This activity is worth 30 points (10 points for each of your two initial posts, 5 points for each of your responses).
 
 
Since its initial publication in the early-twentieth century, T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" has challenged readers' assumptions about poetry.  This is a very challenging poem, and to better understand it (since we ran out of time during class), you might want to check out some commentary.  The Sparknotes on this poem are adequate, but I think that Shmoop does a better job on this one, and it is a much more interesting site.  http://www.shmoop.com/love-song-alfred-prufrock/

Once you feel comfortable with the poem, post a message that responds to one of the statements below. You can say why you agree or disagree with a statement, or how you might want to modify it so it better reflects your understanding of the poem. Your response should include references to the poem, and at least two actual quotations from the poem (with line numbers).

  • Poems such as "Prufrock" are less direct than more conventional poetry, but they leave the reader with more to think about.
  • In several places, "Prufrock" reflects the modernist disillusionment with life in the early-twentieth century.
  • Many of the modernist ideas underlying "Prufrock" are still meaningful today.

As a follow-up posting, comment on the ideas in a classmate's posting, explaining why you agree or disagree with those ideas.

 
 
Now that you've finished both "The Yellow Wallpaper," it's time to discuss your understanding of the story's conclusion.

Many critics disagree about how to read the story's ending. Some see the narrator as a heroine who breaks free of her oppression; others see her as a woman who simply loses her mind. The final few lines from the story, shown below, have been interpreted in various ways.

"'I've got out at last,' said I, 'in spite of you and Jane. And I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back!' Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time."


What do you think happens at the end of the story? Post a message addressing one or more of the following sets of questions:
  • What evidence do you have to support whether or not the narrator goes crazy at the end of the story? Who do you think Jane is (the first reference to her appears in the final two lines of the story)?
  • Does the narrator succeed in rebelling against her husband because he faints, and she walks over him? Does she escape his constraint? Do you think she'll be free of societal restrictions now or encounter more restrictions?


Don't forget to respond to one of your classmates' posts!