Required for the future


Jennifer Kohl

The Great Gatsby lay open on each of the twenty or so desks that were spread out across the room. ALL of the students had a bored expression etched on their faces. They thought the book was old and tired, that there was nothing they could learn from it. But that where the students were wrong. All of the books they were being forced to read in class would come in handy in their futures. College professors would mention them time and time again. The Great Gatsby isn’t the only book that will be referenced by future teachers, and those students will suffer for not caring about what they’re required to read in school.

  Every school has required reading that the majority of students won’t like, or will think are pointless. A good percentage of the student body will beg for new reading choices, partly because the current required readings are being spoiled by upperclassmen. To the students, the ideas and plots are tired, and the books are decades old. These required readings are high-level books with complex text and strong relevance that add to the students’ background knowledge base. These books are also designed to improve students’ comprehension, build their knowledge of cultural literacy, widen their perspectives, introduce important themes, as well as, help them achieve a healthy balance in life. However, these classics are chosen to prevent the students from arriving at college wondering who and what their professors are talking about when they mention William Shakespeare and the goal of the ghost of Hamlet’s father.

  The Great Gatsby, Things Fall Apart, and Frankenstein were all written in contrasting time periods, but they each offer knowledge that can be gained from reading them. The Great Gatsby was originally published on April 10, 1925, about the same time period that the book is set to take place. The Great Gatsby is a well-written example of what life was like back in the Roaring Twenties in New York  something that other books fail to portray.

  Things Fall Apart was written in 1958, already have lasted for 60 years since the original publishing. That being said, it’s easy to see why some students may believe that it’s an old, tired book that has lost its relevance. But what students are failing to realize is that Chinua Achebe, a true Nigerian man, wrote the book; Things Fall Apart is indeed a story about a Nigerian man living in Nigeria in the late nineteenth century. These facts make Things Fall Apart a perfect example of that time period and of Nigeria.

  Frankenstein is a sci-fi novel written by Mary Shelley in 1818, almost 200 years ago. Regardless of its age, Frankenstein is another book that is a strong example of what the world was like in the early 1800’s in Geneva, Switzerland. The Great Gatsby, Things Fall Apart, and Frankenstein are all great references of how people acted back when these books were written as well as their settings. If these three required school readings were to be changed, many students wouldn’t learn what the world was like back during those time periods.

  All over the world, The Great Gatsby, Things Fall Apart, and Frankenstein are adored by authors and teachers alike. In some college classes, there are references to the green light that can be seen from Jay Gatsby’s backyard. Other college professors will mention Doctor T. J. Eckleburg’s eyes on the billboard that Nick sees in town. It’s likely to assume that if a student were not to read The Great Gatsby, those references would go other their heads, making their future schooling significantly harder.

  In Things Fall Apart the author slipped in many Biblical allusions, one of the being Okonkwo killing his son Ikemefuna to prove his loyalty, just as Abraham did with his son Isaac in the bible. That reference is known by a good number of teachers and it’s quite possible that a conversation surrounding that topic would come up in future classes. That being said, it’s safe to assume that Things Fall Apart will be an important book for students’ future and is one that they shouldn’t skip over.

  Even though Frankenstein was written over a century ago, the story lives on in the media, through a collection of 50 movies based on the book. However, students need to know the original story of Frankenstein before they dive head first into the world of Frankenstein created by the media. In the book Frankenstein was more than just an illiterate, bloodthirsty monster. Multiple times in the book Frankenstein talks about wanting to be loved and to be apart of the world, in the original story, Frankenstein was more than just a monster. All of these three books are vital to a student’s future, thanks to the small parts that have made them famous in the media, in classrooms and in teacher halls everywhere.

  All books are capable of teaching, but The Great Gatsby, Things Fall Apart, and Frankenstein each have unique ideas to install in the young minds of tomorrow’s future. In The Great Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan, Myrtle Wilson, and Tom Buchanan commit adultery. Daisy Buchanan was unhappy with her marriage and Tom Buchanan could be a bit forceful. The Great Gatsby brings up an interesting question surrounding Daisy Buchanan’s situation and the deeds that she committed. By putting Daisy Buchanan in a situation where one is tempted to commit adultery, The Great Gatsby becomes relatable to reality: In marriages, some parents cheat and at times, children are involved.

  In Things Fall apart, Okonkwo has to sacrifice something that he loves to live on, and as a result, he hurts the people around him and changes them, possibly for the better. Things Fall Apart teaches people that sometimes sacrifices must be made even if they have an unclear reasoning and outcome at first. Things Fall Apart also taught that even though change can be hard one might flourish because of it, a difficult lesson to learn otherwise. All people are told that there are two sides of every story.

 In Frankenstein, multiple people serve as the narrator, telling the same story but from the view of many characters. Due to Mary Shelley’s using a variety of narrators in Frankenstein, people are inspired to wonder who really is to blame and who in the story didn’t have any blood on their hands, if anyone. If students weren’t to read Frankenstein, it’s simple to inquire if they would learn the same lesson with such intensity.

  Whenever required readings are mentioned in school most students will whine and groan in disgust. However, these students are probably unaware of what these books teach them and the references that will be made to them in the future, or what great examples they are of their time periods. The Great Gatsby, Things Fall Apart, and Frankenstein are all amazing novels that can influence a student’s future success and should remain required reading so they can continue to do so.