The Green Light: An Attainable Hope or an Unrealistic Dream? Part One: Read what follows.

In a recent article in The New York Times (Feb. 17, 2008), writer Sara Rimer discusses the impact that The Great Gatsby has on many of today’s high school students, particularly urban adolescents who are first- and second-generation immigrants. Jinzhao Wang, 14, who immigrated from China, says that the novel’s “themes of possibility and aspiration” speak to her, and that she is “inspired by the green light at the end of the dock” that represents hope (1). For Jinzhao, her green light is Harvard. Susan Moran, the director of the English program at Jinzhao’s Boston Latin High School, says that students who relate to Gatsby “ ‘all understand what it is to strive for something…to want to be someone you’re not, to want to achieve something that’s just beyond reach, whether it’s professional success or wealth or idealized love – or a 4.0 or admission to Harvard’” (1). Even though the students recognize the cautionary nature of Gatsby’s tale and the obstacles that prevent contemporary Americans from achieving their versions of the American Dream, most of them find inspiration in Gatsby and develop their own versions of the “green light”—the dream that they aspire to achieve. However, three days after the article appeared in the New York Times, there were two letters sent in response, and they were letters that disagreed very strongly with the message of Rimer’s article. The letters follow:
Reread ‘Gatsby’: The Dream Was Hollow
To the Editor: Re “Gatsby’s Green Light Beckons a New Set of Strivers” (front page, Feb. 17): If F. Scott Fitzgerald knew that today’s high school students would be comparing Jay Gatsby’s elusive green light to admission to Harvard, he would be shaking his head in disdain. “The Great Gatsby” is not a novel that glorifies the rags-to-riches American dream. It is, in fact, the very opposite, and I find it most surprising that the students and faculty of the Boston Latin School featured in the article could be so misinformed. The light does give Gatsby hope, but between West Egg, where Gatsby is, and East Egg, where his hope is, there lies an insuperable cultural divide. The green light represents all of what we want, but that we never can attain. Jay Gatsby would never reach that light, for the end of his American dream saw him face down in his swimming pool. Nathaniel Eiseman Charlestown, Mass., Feb. 18, 2008 (The writer is a member of the class of 2008 at Boston Latin School.) • To the Editor: “The Great Gatsby” is no Great American Fable of accomplished dreams; it is a cautionary tragedy. Its characters discard their morals to attain pleasure or to quench their ambitions, and, by the novel’s end, they all wind up hollow and disaffected. As a high school junior, I see many students make the same mistakes today. In the pursuit of the false happiness that a Harvard acceptance will bring, students’ ethical standards buckle. They cheat on tests. They lie on résumés. They live by mottos like “Get Rich or Die Tryin’.” Then, suffering from the same malaise as the characters in “Gatsby,” they fry brain cells over the weekend. This is why I am extremely dismayed that Boston Latin students interpreted F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece to be “inspirational” and “hopeful.” “The Great Gatsby” is our greatest testament to the perils of the American Dream, and my favorite book. Have they missed its point?

write it on the front. and include textual support from the book. 1 . If you agree that the green light inspires people to hope. 2008 So. Meyer Pennington. then complete the “My green light is…” sheet. If you agree that the green light is cautionary rather than inspirational and represents all that we desire but will never have.Robinson G. what do you think: is Gatsby’s green light a symbol of dreams and hopes that we can aspire to. DUE: Wednesday Feb. 2.. Feb. do not pick up the “My green light is…” handout. and then strive to attain those dreams. no matter how lofty? Or does the green light represent everything that we want and yet cannot attain? You make the decision and choose one of the following options for your assignment: 1. dream. Decide what your personal green light is.J. 18. N. write a paragraph that explains why you find your interpretation of the light to be valid. and then write one paragraph on the back that describes why that is your “green light” and how you plan to attain it. Instead.