The Great Gatsby

Lesson 2


Analyze the key diction used to characterize the setting as well as the major characters: Nick, Daisy, Tom, Jordan, etc.

Compare how Nick, Daisy, Tom, Jordan, etc., are characterized versus how Gatsby is characterized.

Readings and Materials

Target Task


Writing Prompt

Juxtapose the choices the author makes in his characterization of Gatsby with his methods in characterizing the other characters. What is the impact of these decisions? Use specific evidence to support your answers.

What does the valley of ashes represent? Why is it significant that the Wilsons live there?

Key Questions


  • What were some of the arguments we raised about Nick as a narrator after our close reading? Are there details from the reading that support/challenge his role as a narrator? As one who judges? Continue to track evidence of his reliability as a narrator and of the limitations of a first-person narrator.

  • What specific settings are mentioned in chapters 1 and 2? What diction is used to describe them? What does this choice of diction convey about each?

  • What do we know about each of the characters we have met so far? What is the key diction that describes each?

  • What is the valley of ashes? How is it described? What might it represent? Who lives there?



  • By the end of the class, students should be able to identify key diction and devices the author uses to develop the characters. They should recognize that Fitzgerald tempts his readers with shadowy images of Gatsby—we know the novel is titled after him, but we only see a glimpse of him or hear a snatch of conversation about him. Fitzgerald seems to want him to be mysterious.
  • It may be beneficial for students to work in small groups to identify the ways in which Fitzgerald develops his characters. In the end, each student should have either a list in his/her notes or heavy annotations in his/her book that capture his characterizations of each.