The Great Gatsby

Lesson 1


Identify contradictions present in 1920s society and evaluate how these contradictions are revealed in the opening chapter of the novel. 

Readings and Materials

Target Task


Writing Prompt

What contradictions present in the era of the 1920s are reflected in the first few pages of the novel The Great Gatsby? Explain using details from both texts.

Key Questions



  • What contradictions do you see arising in the 1920s?


  • Fitzgerald’s novel tries to capture some of these contradictions. As we reread the first two pages of The Great Gatsby, keep these contradictions in mind.  
  • Identify possible themes and motifs of the novel as you read.
  • Track Fitzgerald’s characterization of the narrator. Is he reliable? What judgements does he seem to make about others? Do these judgments make him unreliable or not?



  • It is recommended that students read both chapter 1 and the article for homework prior to class. If this is not possible, one or the other could be read during class and the rest of class should be preserved for rereading the first several pages of chapter 1 and for an evidence-based discussion.
  • By the end of today’s class, students should be able to identify (through the article and possibly through teacher-led lecture or discussion) the major contradictions present in era of the 1920s. For example: prohibition is meant to promote morality but ushers in speak-easies; post-war prosperity is both a blessing for many but also leads to a rise in consumerism and materialism that threatens more traditional values; women are experiencing some liberation (flapper culture, etc.) but also serious backlash.
  • Students should read chapter 2 for homework. The teacher may wish to give students a reading schedule for the entire unit in case students would like to read ahead and/or budget their time differently.