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Debating Making a Better Title

I recently had the opportunity to attend Mr. Cook’s English III Honors class’ mock debates. It consisted of two separate debates: “Should The Old Man and the Sea be taught in High School” and “Is The Great Gatsby sexist?”

The debates consisted of an introduction from both parties, a short open discussion period between the opposing parties, the rebuttal, and then the closing statements.

For the first debate, the affirmative side made three main points: The Old Man and the Sea should be taught in schools because it teaches about the Lost Generation, contains important themes (such as hardships offering knowledge, as well as the American dream) and has powerful symbols (the merlin symbolizing purpose and success).

The opposition’s main points were: students have no interest in learning about something they cannot relate to (the main character is older and unrelatable), the book reads at a lower reading level and is therefore not challenging enough for a high school english class, and there are multiple other books that would be better suited to teach about the Lost Generation (The Great Gatsby or Sun Also Rises).

During the open discussion and rebuttal, a few good points came up: the book teaches about personal isolation, whereas the Lost Generation stuck together, the book is in fact relatable (you can relate to the hardships the main character faces and empathize with his emotions), and the book can be used to teach more than just about the Lost Generation with its themes and symbols.

The second debate asked, “Is The Great Gatsby sexist?” The affirmation said: woman are constantly oppressed, objectified, and dominated by men, and portrayed as unintelligent, and although sexism may have been common for the time period, that does not make the book not sexist.

The opposition claimed: The Great Gatsby did not in fact consistently portray females worse than men; in fact, men were illustrated in a more negative light throughout.

During the discussion and rebuttal, a lot of good points were brought up by the affirmation, but most were completely dismantled by the opposition. One that did go through though were that men were generally more wealthy than men. The debate was decently intense throughout, with the affirmation making good points, and the opposition managing to turn their points against them. For instance, a big point that was discussed was Tom having multiple affairs, and saying he only wanted women for their bodies. The opposition countered this by saying some of the women he had affairs with were implied to be prostitutes, people whose job was to simply be a body. As for the one girl he kept going back to, Myrtle, she is not traditionally “beautiful.” Tom seems to actually love her despite her not being slender or overly pretty. Another big point was Daisy wanting her daughter to be a “beautiful little fool.” The affirmation claimed Daisy assigns her knowledge/awareness to her misery, and wants her daughter simply to be happy (ignorance is bliss).

Both debates were thoroughly enjoyable. I am not quite sure who won each one, but both were definitely close, with great points from each side.