Week 23– The Roaring Twenties and Harlem Renaissance

I am so sorry that I am late posting your assignments. I like to have them posted way earlier, but we had a busy weekend and last night Miley threw up so I was doing that. But, since it is after 10 am. on Monday morning, I will keep it light today. I will also come back later and update your assignments for tomorrow and the rest of the week. Enjoy 🙂

Monday–The Black Influence in the 1920’s

The truth is that the Roaring Twenties would not have happened without a powerful African American influence. It was the music, the art, and the culture of the Harlem Renaissance that strongly rose up and led us into a new era. Please watch the video from this link below:

Harlem Renaissance History Channel

You really need to see the whole movement before we look at just the famous writers.

Here is a bio of the famous musician, Duke Ellington. I am sure you recognize his music, even if it is just from movies you have seen. Please click on the link below and watch the short video:

Duke Ellington: Famous People of the Harlem Renaissance

Our first day of class we read poetry from Langston Hughes. I love him. My kids love him. Please click the link below and watch the short video:

Biography Channel–Langston Hughes

Now read the following poem:

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

Langston Hughes, 19021967
I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
     flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln 
     went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy 
     bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

Tuesday–More Langston Hughes and more music . . . 

Today I want you to read the following poems by Langston Hughes:

Mother To Son

The Dream Keeper

I, Too

Merry Go Round


Note On Commercial Theatre

By Langston Hughes

You’ve taken my blues and gone–
You sing ’em on Broadway
And you sing ’em in Hollywood Bowl,
And you mixed ’em up with symphonies
And you fixed ’em
So they don’t sound like me.
Yep, you done taken my blues and gone.

You also took my spirituals and gone.
You put me in MacBeth and Carmen Jones
And all kinds of Swing Mikados
And in everything but what’s about me–
But someday somebody’ll
Stand up and talk about me,
And write about me–
Black and beautiful–
And sing about me,
And put on plays about me!
I reckon it’ll be
Me myself!

Yes, it’ll be me.

(Hughes comments on the use of blues music in theater and adaptations of comic opera. Although best known for his poetry, Hughes also wrote several plays for the theater including Mulatto and the lyrics for Black Nativity)

Want to hear his voice? Here is a video where you can hear his real voice reading his own poetry.

That should MOVE you. That is such a treasure of American History and Poetry. Wow.

And that poem traces Black History to the dawn of time. It is beautiful.

Here is another video of him reading his poetry.

Langston Hughes Questions (please turn in on Friday in class).

1. In “Mother to Son,” what is the main metaphor that he uses to represent life, and how does he develop the metaphor throughout the poem? (Metaphor Definition)

2. In “Mother to Son” what is the main theme of the poem? What one lesson is the mother trying to teach her son?

3. “I, Too” is an allusion to Walt Whitman who wrote, “I Hear America Singing” (we read it about a month ago). Please reread Whitman’s poem and then Hughes’ poem and then explain why Hughes felt the need to ADD his story to the song of America. Who did Whitman fail to represent? And why does Hughes say that tomorrow we will be ashamed? (Allusion as a Literary Device)

4. “Merry Go Round” is such a clever poem about the insanity of segregation. How does he use a Merry Go Round to symbolize people ruining the joy and innocence of humanity, and the irony of sitting in the back of the bus?

5. “Harlem” and “The Dream Keeper” are both about dreams. But can you explain how the tone of both of the poems are different? (Interpreting Tone)

6. Remember the difference between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois? The poem “Note on Commercial Theater” totally disproves one’s philosophy while totally embracing the other’s. So whose philosophy does Hughes embrace in this poem? DuBois or Washington? And why. You might need to do some review (this was in Mrs. Kim’s class).

Wednesday and Thursday–The Great Gatsby

Finish whatever you didn’t finish for Langston Hughes. Then watch The Great Gatsby (2000 version) with Mira Sorvino. This movie is totally PG. Later in the movie you see someone get hit by a car, and then two people with gun wounds. But it is not that graphic. Way less than Romeo and Juliet. Please do not watch the version that came out last year with Leonardo DiCaprio; it is too inappropriate. Although, like last year I did pick out some appropriate clips from the Baz Luhrmann version that you can enjoy (bottom of page).

Before you begin watching this movie I want to point out some things. This book, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is what many consider to be “the great American novel.” It is excellent writing. There are many quotable passages.

This book, in my lowly opinion has the best last page of any American novel. In British Lit, A Tale of Two Cities has the best last page and in American Lit The Great Gatsby has the best last page. Sometimes, when I am thinking to myself, I even nickname The Great Gatsby-A Tale of Two Eggs. LOL. You will get that joke after you watch the movie.  In fact, I am going to ask you to read the last page when you finish the movie.

Here is a Gatsby quote that I use all the time, “I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”–Jordan Baker (I say this to Dustin every time we go to a large party).

Fun Fact– I am still sad because I lent my first copy of the book to my friend and she lost it. Not only did it have my notes in it which are irreplaceable, but it was the copy that I read holding my grandma’s hand as she lay sleeping in a hospice bed the days before she went to be with Jesus. So it was very precious to me. I have a new copy with new notes. But I still miss my lost book. 

There are two main symbols in the book:

  1. The Green Light on Daisy’s Dock–this symbolizes hope and dreams for the future. Gatsby connects it to his plans to win Daisy’s love. He literally reaches out his arms to it. It also symbolizes the American Dream, Fitzgerald compares it to America rising out of the ocean and how early settlers must have felt the first time they saw this new land.
  2. The Eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg–They were an old optometrist advertisement. These eyes painted on a billboard, over the Valley of Ashes. They are a reminder that God is watching over us, in our valley of ashes. It isn’t an explicit symbol, but it is there, and we can use it how we like.

Here are some important quotes from the book, please keep them in mind as you watch as they are clues to the theme. 

  • “I hope she’ll be a fool — that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”–Daisy
  • “Can’t repeat the past?…Why of course you can!”–Jay Gatsby
  • You can’t live forever; you can’t live forever” — Myrtle Wilson
  • “If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promise of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the ‘creative temperament’–it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. No–Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.”–Nick (describing Gatsby)
  • “He must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream. He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass. A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about…like that ashen, fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous trees.” 
  • “And in the end, we were all just humans.. drunk on the idea that love, only love, could heal our brokenness.”
  • “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

Now go ahead and watch the movie, and I will ask you some questions about it later this week 🙂

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Here is the last page:

“And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning——

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” 

Here are a couple of scenes from the recent movie that are appropriate for our class, and well done. If you like.

But please do not watch any other suggested videos without your parents sitting next you you and your WWJD bracelet on.

Beautiful Little Fool Scene

I’m Gatsby Scene (This is total Baz Luhrmann superfluousness 🙂 enjoy)

The Tea Scene

The final scene


23 thoughts on “Week 23– The Roaring Twenties and Harlem Renaissance

  1. Oh my goodness the great gatsby was so good. I wish we could have watched the one with Leonardo DiCaprio but like you said some parts weren’t appropriate so I understand. Anyways I loved all the super quoteable lines and what a great story it was. I was so invested into it. So glad we get to learn about so many great stories and poems in this class.

    1. The best part of the Baz Lurhmann one is the part where DiCaprio screams shut up at Tom (also, Baz picked a PERFECT Tom).

      He is amazing. I get chills when I see that.

  2. I wish when I announced who I was fireworks lit up behind me lolol 😀 jk I really loved this movie! I was waiting for the “horizon” sign to go away for so long because I thought it was part of the opening credits, but then I realized it was just the signature of the people who posted the video… -_- lol

  3. Okay, one other part you guys might like to watch is Myrtle’s death scene in the new version. She gets hit by a car, so if you don’t want to see that, don’t watch. But in this scene Lurhmann totally uses the symbol of the eyes. It is so intense. I get crazy goosebumps.

  4. I don’t know why but I like the older version better. It looks more realistic, whereas the one make in 2013, some scenes look too computerized.

  5. I honestly can say “The Great Gatsby” is one of my favorite movies now! lol I don’t know why I like it so much! I agree with Macey, the older version is way better! Totally more real and un-modernized. (if that’s even a word) lol I just told my mom, this is a big deal considering I’m not a fan of any old moves. lol Going to watch it again!

  6. Yes, I do really like the older version too. I think that it is a much better Nick. Spiderman annoys me; but maybe Nick is annoying! But yes, the old version is very good.

  7. Aww man, I’m so bummed I missed doing the Charleston and the mint julep drinking… </3 My cousin wouldn't stop coughing and sneezing into his Hideaway Pet Hedgehog and throwing it at me… thus, I got sick… I'm gonna hurt that kid!

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