Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The Great Gatsby - Chapter 4 Writing Competition

Chapter 4 of The Great Gatsby is certainly the rising action chapter of the novel. Gatsby takes Nick to the city and on the way he delivers his well rehearsed fake back story to Nick with total commitment and of course fantastic props. When the two gentlemen arrive at 'a well — fanned Forty-second Street cellar' they meet the fascinating Meyer Wolfsheim. His almost comedic support of Gatsby as 'an Oggsford man' with 'fine breeding' is eerily juxtaposed with the knowledge that he was the man that fixed the 1919 World series and wears human teeth as cufflinks. After Wolfsheim leaves, Nick spots Tom Buchanan and introduces him to Gatsby. In the midst of rather awkward conversation Gatsby simply disappears. Fitzgerald then suddenly jumps us forward to later in the day when Jordan meets Nick. This conversation of course gives both the reader and Nick an insightful look back to Daisy's state of mind just before she married Tom 'Tell ’em all Daisy’s change’ her mine' and sets up the tea meeting at Nick's house between Gatsby and Daisy.

This week I set my 5th year class the challenge of filling in the narrative bridge in the middle of the chapter. I encouraged them to try and write in the style of Fitzgerald. We decided that they could: continue the conversation between Nick and Tom, start a new conversation between Nick and Gatsby or a mixture of both. Below I've included the entries I received from the class along with a poll to cast your vote for the winner (Learning of course being the real winner!). For your convenience, I've included the original text before and after where our entrants inserted their piece. Thanks for taking the time to read the entries and cast your vote!

Original Text

“This is Mr. Gatsby, Mr. Buchanan.”
They shook hands briefly, and a strained, unfamiliar look of embarrassment came over Gatsby’s face.
“How’ve you been, anyhow?” demanded Tom of me. “How’d you happen to come up this far to eat?”
“I’ve been having lunch with Mr. Gatsby.”
 I turned toward Mr. Gatsby, but he was no longer there.


One October day in nineteen-seventeen ——
(said Jordan Baker that afternoon, sitting up very straight on a straight chair in the tea-garden at the Plaza Hotel)

 — I was walking along from one place to another, half on the sidewalks and half on the lawns. I was happier on the lawns because I had on shoes from England with rubber nobs on the soles that bit into the soft ground. I had on a new plaid skirt also that blew a little in the wind, and whenever this happened the red, white, and blue banners in front of all the houses stretched out stiff and said TUT-TUT-TUT-TUT, in a disapproving way.


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