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Could you please tell me what is the meaning of "courtesy bay" in the chapter I of The...

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coutelle | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted March 25, 2013 at 5:24 PM via web

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Could you please tell me what is the meaning of "courtesy bay" in the chapter I of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald?


It was a matter of chance that I should have rented a house in one of the strangest communities in North America. It was on that slender riotous island which extends itself due east of New York and where there are, among other natural curiosities, two unusual formations of land. Twenty miles from the city a pair of enormous eggs, identical in contour and separated only by a courtesy bay, jut out into the most domesticated body of salt water in the Western Hemisphere, the great wet barnyard of Long Island Sound. 

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 25, 2013 at 6:40 PM (Answer #1)

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The term was probably invented by Fitzgerald. At this early point in the book, the reader is becoming acquainted with Nick, and Fitzgerald's writing is presenting Nick as being one who is well-spoken, reliable and accurate in his descriptions of people and places, and knowledgeable about his surroundings.

West Egg and East Egg are a matched pair of peninsulas, "two unusual formations of land" shaped like eggs as they project out into the water that forms Long Island Sound. Between the peninsulas is a long, narrow stretch of water.

A bay is defined as being "a body of water partially enclosed by land but with a wide mouth, affording access to the sea." The water between West Egg and East Egg could be called a body of water only with some stretch of the imagination, and it gave access to the Sound rather than directly to the Atlantic Ocean. However, for purposes of enhancing Nick's nautical expertise and to support Gatsby's grandiose dreams for himself and the location of his mansion, the water between the Eggs is generously given the polite title of being a "courtesy bay."


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