#34: How Discussion of The Great Gatsby Gets Totally Derailed by a Big Spider

wolf spider

How Discussion of The Great Gatsby Gets Totally Derailed by a Big Spider

It’s happened before:
bug gets into the room
and distracts the students,

rightfully so, because
it’s like, you know,
a bug.

Today it’s a spider,
a really big one,
as the teacher tries to tease

out this delicious bit
in the novel when Gatsby
requests a secret audience

with Jordan Baker.
What do they talk about?
Why is Jordan so dumbstruck afterwards?

And then the spider shows up
and it’s a big one and it makes
(I’m sorry to say)

the 17 year old girl scream,
get up from her chair,
and scurry across the room

while the boys in the class
figure out what to do
and the teacher tries

and fails
to regain control and focus.
One boy looks for a thing

to put the spider in
to presumably save its life
or maybe to preserve it

for further study
while another boy
does the stereotypical

guy thing and moves in
for the kill
while the teacher alone

pleads mercy for the bug.
Teacher is ignored
and spider is summarily

squashed. The teacher
is angry, appropriately
ridicules the killer

and makes him clean
the gore from the tile floor.
A few more minutes

and the teacher might
have made an object lesson
of the death of that spider

and perhaps asked
students to think about how
in the Gatsby novel

the strong abuse the weak
and deepest desire, sometimes
just to live a life,

is often snuffed or snubbed.
But the bell rings
and class is dismissed,

a strong finish spoiled
by the fleeting distraction
of a really big spider.

Published by michaeljarmer

I'm a public high school English teacher, fiction writer, poet, and musician in Portland, Oregon

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