Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Adoption Movie Guide: The Great Gatsby

Jay Gatsby lives a life of luxury on a waterfront home. Right across the water, a lost love lives with her husband. Gatsby tries to win her affection with his newly-created identity, and in doing so, to reclaim the past.

How is This Relevant to Adoption? 
Gatsby changed his name and mannerisms, in the hopes that he could better his life. He surrounds himself with friends, but feels lonely among them. In spite of all of some painful experiences, he is described as “the single most hopeful person.”

Strong Points
The Great Gatsby has the potential to give positive messages – “Don’t try to relive the past; enjoy the future,” and “Find contentment in the life you have.”

Some children and teenagers will connect with the narrator (played by Tobey Maguire), who expresses that he has had to carry “so many secrets” for everyone in his life. The narrator finally moves towards freeing himself from the secrets by writing them down.


Lots of alcohol use, “swinger” parties and violence make this a poor choice for younger viewers. In one scene, a woman is hit and killed by a car. There is a murder/suicide.

If Gatsby is the protagonist, the goal of the film is for him to seduce another man’s wife.


The film is depressing. Gatsby “never accepted his parents,” because he wanted to be “more” than them. And he ultimately didn’t achieve the goals he had wanted. A more positive spin on the same message would be, “Find contentment in the life you have,” but The Great Gatsby doesn’t put it that way. It just seems to convey a message of hopelessness.


The Great Gatsby probably won’t appeal to younger viewers. Consider it for teenagers who might be interested in an action flick.

After  the movie

Journaling often helps people get out feelings and secrets that they don’t feel comfortable sharing. Think about providing a journal to your teen and letting him have the time and space to use it.

New to this site? Like this post? Check out the other Adoption Movie Guides!


  1. I've always felt that the Great Gatsby was a story about obsession, unhappiness, and the sad inability to accept and love oneself as well.

    1. I can definitely see that. It was easy to feel a bit sad and unsatisfied at the end.


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