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Summer Reading List 

AP English Language and Composition

Summer Reading- The Great Gatsby and “The Ways We Lie”


Dear Student: Welcome to AP English Lang and Comp. The summer reading selections offer students high-interest, contemporary text, as well as nonfiction reading and literary classics. I hope you will find the summer readings enjoyable as well as thought-provoking. You will be reading one fictional novel and one article (see Links here on my page). It is highly recommended that you purchase your own hard copy of the book, as that will provide you with the opportunity to highlight and make notes within your pages to help you read more critically. Discounted new and used books can often be found on websites such as DUE DATE: The first day of school. If you have any questions, you can email me at,, or sign up for Remind101- 81010- @aplang2020.

The Great Gatsby

The mysterious nature of the title character; the unreliable narrator; the secret double lives of Gatsby and Daisy, Tom and Myrtle; the chaos of Gatsby’s summer parties, the unseen nature of the major events of the novel; these all work together to communicate Fitzgerald’s idea of the chaotic nature of modern life and his questioning of the American ideal.

The book is built in such a way that much of what we learn about the Jay Gatsby and his story is

communicated by things other than Gatsby’s dialogue. The story is told through the eyes of Nick Carraway, his temporary neighbor, and as readers we can never be sure if what Gatsby tells us is true. Instead, we learn more by looking at other characters, in flashbacks to previous events, and in Fitzgerald’s use of repetitive images and ideas.

As you read the novel, look for some of the ways that Fitzgerald communicates information to us about Gatsby and what Gatsby stands for. Find the information specified below and fill out these charts to help you understand how the novel is put together.  

You can probably sit and read the novel in a day – probably about eight or ten hours. But I wouldn’t recommend it. Additionally, you will need some extra time to go through the book and find the information you are directed to find on the following pages. You can probably read the novel and complete this assignment in less time than it would take you to find the answers on the internet or watch one of the film versions of the novel. Now is a good time to get in the habit of doing things for yourself.

The first time you read the book, look for the following things: Descriptions of characters other than Gatsby




Car accidents


Mark them in your book – underline them and write yourself a note as to what you’ve underlined. Also, you’ll want to look for scenes in which Fitzgerald uses particular words that stand you, structures his sentences a particular way, or are otherwise interesting to you. Mark those too by underlining them, bracketing them, or otherwise indicating that there’s something interesting there.

          Once you’ve finished the book, fill out the charts below. This will be much easier if you’ve annotated your text. You will remember scenes more quickly and be able to find them in the book easily. When you return in the fall, you will have several assessments on Gatsby. You will be able to use these notes on the assessments. Additionally, you will turn them in to me, so it is important that you complete them.

           Please note, that whenever you are asked to cite a scene from the book, you will need to provide a citation for your example. If you are using a paper copy of the book, you will need to provide the number of the page on which the quote appears. If you are using an electronic text you may simply provide the chapter number, as the pages in an e-book are dynamic.


“The Ways We Lie”

Read and annotate “The Ways We Lie” by Stephanie Ericsson. Using the categories of liars presented in Ericsson’s essay, discuss the characters’ lies and where they fit in the spectrum.


For each of the characters listed below, explain how the character is described physically, what their personality is like, and what their role in the story is. Support your answers with citations where appropriate.


Physical Description (provide a quote, with page number citation)

Personality (provide a quote, with page number citation)

Role in the story

Discuss the Character’s Lies using the categories presented in Ericsson’s essay.

(provide a quote, with page number citation)









Jordan Baker























Myrtle Wilson









Another way Fitzgerald develops the characters in the novel and uses them to inform us about the society he is discussing, is in his use of a variety of different motifs. Remember that a motif is “a conspicuous element, such as a type of incident, device, reference, or formula, which occurs frequently in works of literature.” (Abrams) This is different from the theme, in that a theme is a guiding principle, a message that the author is trying to communicate. A motif is a repeated image or element that is used to help communicate the theme. Put simply, a motif is a thing for readers to see, a theme is a thing for readers to understand.  

Find two examples of Fitzgerald using eyes in the novel, quote and cite them below:





What do these scenes with eyes tell us about the themes of the book?




Find two examples of Fitzgerald using weather in the novel, quote and cite them below:





What do these scenes with weather tell us about the themes of the book?




Find two examples of Fitzgerald using car accidents in the novel, quote and cite them below:





What do these scenes with car accidents tell us about the themes of the book?





Fitzgerald also uses colors in a special way. He often uses them to identify certain characteristics or attributes – gold and yellow associated with money, for example. But he also uses them to indicate certain personality traits in his characters. Find two places in the novel where a particular color is used to show or reinforce an idea about a character’s personality.

Quote describing color and a character

How does that color help us understand that character?