The Great Gatsby: East Egg versus West Egg

East Egg versus West Egg East Egg and West Egg are “identical in contour and separated only by a courtesy bay … They are not perfect ovals … but their physical resemblance must be a source of perpetual wonder to the gulls that fly overhead. To the wingless a more interesting phenomenon is their dissimilarity in every particular except shape and size. “(9) In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald creates different worlds, where many different people live amongst each other.
The areas of East Egg and West Egg in Long Island find isolation not just geographically, “separated only by a courtesy bay” (9), but more significantly in the way the two societies contrast. Along with East and West Egg, Fitzgerald creates another symbol where a dark and lifeless community lives: the Valley of Ashes, “a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air” (22,4.)
With vivid settings Fitzgerald creates for the audience, the audience is able to connect with the settings at a more personal level and receive more insight about the characters to establish a full understanding of them. East Egg is home to the fashionable group of social elite, also known as “old money” or people who have always had money. Tom and Daisy represent the ‘old establishment’, having lived with money their whole lives. Daisy is very materialistic and is consumed with being associated with her ‘social class’. These people are shallow and lack any moral principles.


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They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together. ” They are careless and selfish, which is exemplified through Jordan Baker. Jordan Baker is a professional golfer who thinks so highly of herself. She feels people should be careful of her when she drives. The society of East Egg are ruthless. Although these are clearly people who live to please themselves, the West Eggers constantly envy and imitate them. Throughout the novel it seems the West Eggers are trying to fit in with the East and be ccepted by the East Eggers.

West Eggers are the newly rich; the people who have worked hard and earned their money in a short period of time. Their wealth is epitomized on material possessions. Gatsby, like the West Eggers, lacks the traditions of the East Eggers. He is considered ‘new money’, in the sense that his wealth came to him more recently through his own success. Although Gatsby is now a part of this class, his faith and belief in the success of his dreams has allowed him to preserve some morality. Nick Carraway, the narrator of the novel, lives in West Egg and exhibits honesty in this place of superficiality.
Clearly the West is able to preserve some ethics while the East is not able to grasp any. Although West Egg is the more moral, it is still a place of superficiality and materialism. Daisy, Tom, Nick, Jordan, and Gatsby all move to the east, where they move from a world of values to a moral vacuum, represented by the “valley of ashes. ” The valley of ashes represents a world, which is like a distorted hell created by modern industry. Factories and trains, produced in the manufacture of wealth, has polluted America with its waste. Overlooking the valley, are the sightless eyes of T. J.
Ecklburg, an advertisement on a billboard, that is actually confused as God. It represents a god who has been created by modern society to make money, and a god who no longer sees nor cares. The whole valley symbolizes a world whose ethnics are so spiritually lost, that they worship money and wealth. The promise of happiness, hope, and freedom that America gave its first settlers, has been corrupted by the lies of greed, and the emptiness of a dream based on wealth.
Within these settings many of the lifestyles contrast, from the “old money,” to the “rags to riches,” to the “ruthless wealthy. ” F.Scott Fitzgerald creates different types of people who are so different, yet have the same drive to be a part of the wealthy upper class. These places have different standards and tend to conflict with each other. In The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald creates many different lifestyles the cities he creates: East and West Egg and the Valley of Ashes. These settings each have contrasting components that exemplify the true colors of the characters. Fitzgerald shows the differences between East and West Egg and The Valley of Ashes, what each town represents, and finally how the contrast shows the meaning of the character’s lifestyles.

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