Place in "The Great Gatsby"
F. Scott Fitzgerald decided upon New York as the location for The Great Gatsby because it was considered the civilized center of the United States during the 1920s. East Egg and West Egg are the peninsulae of Long Island and which the main characters inhabit. In actuality the peninsulae are not denoted by these names, but Fitzgerald pictured them as egg-shaped. East Egg is the place where the "old money" lives. The East Eggers are aristocrats and have lived with their wealth and dissipation for generations. An important aspect of their lives is their scorn for so called "new money". The West Eggers are the "new money" that the East Eggers resent. They are all lower and middle class people who have found themselves with outrageous amounts of money, and as a result spend it in an outrageous manner. Daisy has never gone to one of Gatsby's parties because she hates being around East Eggers. Fitzgerald chose this clear separation between old and new to mirror East and West America. The people of the East considered the Western United States the barbaric frontier. The country was just beginning to grow in the West and as a result it was viewed as young and immature. The West Eggers are, likewise, the new money and are viewed just as the frontier is: young and immature.
None of the principal characters are native to New England. Gatsby grew up in North Dakota. Most of the rest grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. The characters could all be considered westerners, or outsiders. Fitzgerald used this as another East-West comparison. The Westerners moving east are trying to make new lives for themselves and leave the immature West behind.
It is important to consider the "Valley of Ashes." This desolate wasteland is located on the way to New York from East or West Egg. It is the location of George Wilson's garage and is also the site of Myrtle's demise. The billboard of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg, a symbolic reference to God, is also located in the valley of ashes. The valley represents modern society and the destruction that it causes. The ashes are a byproduct of the trains and represent a poisoning of the American landscape. The valley is essentially a dumping ground for modern, industrial, toxic waste.
Nick Carraway relocates from the West, a place where moral values are upheld, to the East, a place of meretricious values of wealth and social affairs. Moving to New York City, Nick lands a small job in the stocks and bonds business. After living in New York, people sacrifice their moral standards and turn to corruption. For example, Nick becomes more dishonest than he was when he first left for the big city. Furthermore, Nick, Gatsby, Tom, Daisy, and Jordan all migrated from the west to the east, and in doing so, they desert most of the moral values that they had acquired while living in the West. Making a permanent move to the East symbolizes the complete loss of moral esteem in Tom, Daisy, and Jordan; however, Nick, who will regain the moral standard that he had once lost while living in the East, moves back to the Midwest after Gatsby's death.
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