Setting Notes

WEST EGG- West Egg is one of the peninsulas off the coast of New York City. Both Nick and Gatsby live in West Egg, which is across the bay from East Egg. Typically, it was the home of the ‘new money’ people; ‘new-money’ meaning they have made all their own money rather than inheriting it. However, for some people like Gatsby, to make their ‘new money,’ they had to make it illegally. The West Egg citizens aren’t as respected at the East Eggers, which is why even though Gatsby has money, he will never enter the social class of Daisy and Tom (who live in East Egg); also never entering the social class he needs to ‘win’ Daisy. “I lived at West Egg, the – well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them.” Over in West Egg, we only know of two sub-settings, Gatsby’s and Nick’s houses. Gatsby has a gargantuan house where he holds extravagant parties solely attempting to get Daisy’s attention. Sitting near Gatsby’s house is Nicks little cottage, smaller, but just as significant as Gatsby’s as it where Gatsby and Daisy first reunite. West Egg is also the setting where Gatsby sees the green light upon Daisy’s dock that is opposite his house. It’s the symbol that gives him hope that one day he will and can have her.                                                                                                                                               We can relate West Egg to illusion in many ways. One way is the fact it is the main setting where the weather reflects the characters who live in that setting. For example, the mist comes in, clouding Gatsby’s vision of the green light across the bay on Daisy’s dock. “If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay…You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock.” This reflects how when his dream was becoming clear, everything floods in blocking his sights of the end of his dream, where it begins to come true. Also when Daisy and Gatsby first reunite again, the weather is terrible, it’s pouring down rain before and while it is still in the awkward stage between the two. As soon as things start becoming good again between the pair, the sun comes out, the weather matching the plot once again.

 

VALLEY OF ASHES- “This is the valley of ashes- a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke…” It is the halfway point between New York City and the two Eggs, so Tom, Daisy, Gatsby and Nick all have to drive through it when they go to the city. Myrtle and Wilson live in a car garage in the middle of the Valley of Ashes (Myrtle being Toms affair). On the way to New York, Tom always stops in at Wilsons garage to get petrol but is actually secretly checking up on Myrtle. He has a strong connection with her, even though she lives in this depressing and dirty place where the poor are known to live. Myrtle is a few social and economic classes below Tom, just like all citizens of VOA, so she, and many others, are stuck struggling and will take any chance they can get to escape out of their destroyed city.                                                                                                                   We can relate this to illusion the same way we can with West Egg; the Valley of Ashes is the other side of the American Dream we never see. It is the poor people who are struggling in life, the ones who failed to make it into the ‘American Dream.’ However, all the prisoners in the Valley Of Ashes are still trying to push their way into “The dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone.” Unfortunately for them, they will never make it out of the cycle; the poorer get poorer while the rich get richer. “…finally, with a transcendent effort, of ash-grey men, who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.”  

NEW YORK CITY- The buzz of the city allures the characters in, they use New York as a hideaway from their complicated lives. They became inspired by its natural charm, especially Gatsby. At first, Nick describes the city very positively, almost the perfect flawed city. He gave it a kind of light as if it was part of a different world, standing high above West and East Egg. New York City had the illusion of being part of a different universe; this is why the main characters thought is was such an ideal place to get away from their restricting lives. They would all use the city to hide all their regular overt liaison’s from the people they love and value back on Long Island. They overrated the power the city would have, they thought it could control their secrets forever and keep them all congested in once place; hoping they wouldn’t follow them back to Long Island. However, Nick actually believed that New York was just another one of Gatsby’s parties, just less glamorous; both full of lonely plain people. “At the enchanted metropolitan twilight, I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others – poor young clerks who loitered in front of windows waiting until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner – young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.” New York City was a place where people hid away from the reality that is life.

East Egg- East Egg is the nicer one of the two peninsulas on Long Island, where the wealthier people live in their gargantuan mansions, with their extravagant and well-groomed lawns. “Across the courtesy bay, the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water.” There lived the people that Gatsby based his own life around, the ones who were part of a “…distinguished secret society to which she(Daisy) and Tom belonged.” A social class Gatsby would never be able to sneak into even with the gargantuan and extravagant lies he told. He was always going to be stuck in the unrefined West Egg that stayed one step behind, hiding in the shadows of the East Egg community. East Egg is full of ‘white palaces’ for the plain and empty souls who were born into the ‘good life.’ 

 

 

 

 

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