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Anticipation Guide for THE GREAT GATSBY

    Great Gatsby Anticipation Guide Cover

    Each statement in The Great Gatsby Anticipation Guide correlates to a major theme in the novel.  There are ten prompts on this one-page handout (PDF). Read on for more pre-reading questions and activities.

    Anticipation Guide - THE GREAT GATSBY

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      • Open and save The Great Gatsby Anticipation Guide (PDF).
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    1) “I believe in the idea of a soulmate or perfect match. Once you find that special someone, do everything you can to make it work.”

    AGREE, DISAGREE, or QUALIFY

    Respond: This concept does not make mathematical sense. I know many happy couples who found each other.  What a fabulous coincidence that they crossed paths and spoke the same language on this giant planet with many billions of people! 😉 While the concept of a “soulmate” is appealing, there are many good romantic matches for most individuals.

    2) “You can be friends with someone that you do not actually like.”

    AGREE, DISAGREE, or QUALIFY

    Respond: This depends on your definition of “friend.” You might spend time with someone because you enjoy the same activities even if you do not respect them or feel concern for their wellbeing.  I reserve the term friend for people that I respect and care about. I would be willing to make a personal sacrifice for their benefit.

    3) “Anyone who gets rich in this world has probably behaved immorally to become so.”

    AGREE, DISAGREE, or QUALIFY

    Respond: Disagree. Some people are talented or brilliant to the extent that they can achieve great success on an even playing field. I do not assume that all rich people are immoral.

    4) “Life is mainly about pleasure. If you are not getting the most enjoyment possible, what is the point?”

    AGREE, DISAGREE, or QUALIFY

    Respond: Life is a gift to be enjoyed, but pleasure should not be the main concern. I can think of several examples of people who were primarily concerned with their own enjoyment, and it usually ends badly.  To feel fulfilled, your life needs purpose.  Sometimes your purpose may make you miserable, but it may take precedence over momentary pleasure.

    5) “It is possible to reinvent yourself. You can forget your past, start over, and become whomever you want.”

    AGREE, DISAGREE, or QUALIFY

    Respond: I think that this would take a very unique mentality. Assuming you were able to obscure your past and your records, you carry yourself and your past in your own mind.  You may not want to possess certain traits or proclivities, but you do. Your identity and personality are the end result of what lies beneath, and that is almost inalterable.

    6) “The most successful people demonstrate extreme focus. You must obsess over a goal with clarity and single-mindedness.”

    AGREE, DISAGREE, or QUALIFY

    Respond: I agree. I notice that the lives of powerful leaders, CEOs, entrepreneurs, and celebrated artists are often out of balance.  I think that is why many celebrities struggle to have positive, healthy relationships.  It seemed that Bill Gates bucked this trend, but he ultimately went through divorce as well. I think the most successful people are single-minded, and this is not necessarily desirable.

    7) “What other people think of you matters.”

    AGREE, DISAGREE, or QUALIFY

    Respond: It is well and good to claim that you do not care what others think of you, but is it true? Human beings are social animals. For hundreds of thousands of years your life and death could be determined by your social skills.  If your tribe decided to shun you, your survival was in doubt.  Humans are hard-wired to care what others think of them.  Nowadays, what others think of you can still have a very real impact on your quality of life.

    8) “In our modern society, family background is meaningless. Social class is based on individual qualities and achievements.”

    AGREE, DISAGREE, or QUALIFY

    Respond: I agree. If you make a bazillion dollars and comport yourself with style and grace, nobody cares about your parents or ancestors.  There might small, insular social circles that still consider that type of thing, but they are the extreme minority.  Ancestral class mattered more back in the day; wealth and accomplishment matter more now.  In fact, a well-heeled background may meet with derision.

    9) “The wealthy have a responsibility to the greater society.”

    AGREE, DISAGREE, or QUALIFY

    Respond: Responsibility is not the right word. It is a blessing for all concerned when the fortunate voluntarily support the greater good.  It is both admirable and desirable.  However, the word responsibility suggests an expectation or mandate in this altruistic behavior and somehow negates its value. Taxes are mandatory. Altruism must be voluntary. If a wealthy individual has chosen to help no one, they have done nothing wrong, but they have missed the opportunity to do right.

    10) “Do not waste your time trying to re-live the past. Special moments and relationships are fleeting; you must move on.”

    AGREE, DISAGREE, or QUALIFY

    Respond: I disagree. Sometimes I meet up with old friends, and we try to recreate fun times from the past. It usually works.  The past moment inspires the present moment.


    Anticipation guides benefit the overall unit in two ways:

    First, the statements / pre-reading questions provide easy access to discussions of major theme subjects. Get students debating the big ideas prior to any mention of theme development or author’s purpose. This preliminary steps starts the progression toward the ultimate goal: expert analysis of theme development. The handout below is an example of a task from a later lesson.

    Anticipation guide worksheet PDF

    Second, The Great Gatsby anticipation guide creates engagement before students even open the book. Everyone loves exploring their own opinions on the important topics of life and society – secondary students are no exception.  Students may find themselves supporting or opposing particular statements rather vehemently.  Rather than telling the students, “You care about this,” allow the students to recognize the relevance for themselves.


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    I hope that you found this The Great Gatsby Anticipation guide helpful. If so, check out more The Great Gatsby pre-reading questions and activities from TeachNovels. Keep in mind that all of these materials and lesson plans come from the complete unit.