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What do East Egg and West Egg represent and why does Nick return to the west?

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aub2 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 18, 2007 at 6:33 AM via web

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What do East Egg and West Egg represent and why does Nick return to the west?

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 18, 2007 at 10:10 AM (Answer #1)

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East Egg and West Egg together represent the ongoing divisions in society. East Egg is where the "real" aristocrats live: those with older money and established credentials. West Egg is where the new money lives, and is not considered as classy.

Nick returns to West Egg because, while he has some social credentials that might allow him to live in East Egg, he is trying to make something of himself, in a way like Gatsby, his neighbor, and the western community is for those still constructing their identities.

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renelane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted March 21, 2007 at 1:27 AM (Answer #2)

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East Egg and West Egg represent Old Money and New Money. East Egg has more social clout, respectabillity, and "taste" than those resising in West Egg.
Nick has the respectability and background to live in East Egg, yet takes a certain pride in making his own way in his life, thus associating himself with the "west eggers".

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fpisano | Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted March 27, 2007 at 5:08 AM (Answer #3)

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East and West Egg represent, respectively, the split among upper class society of old-monied, aristocratic families and the "nouveau riche" families whose fortunes were recently made. In the time setting for this novel, this division was distinct and very relevant. "Old money" was considered more respectable than "new money" and this is evident in the social depiction of life in East Egg and life in West Egg. Consider, for example, how Daisy (an East Egger) considers Gatsby's (West Egg) parties to be decadent and unlike the civilized gatherings she is accustomed to attending.

Nick ultimately returns west because he has become disillusioned with east coast society. He left the west, like many people of his era, in search of a richer, broader, cultural experience. After his experiences with Gatsby, Nick finds the east and its attendant lifestyle to be contemptible and lacking in authenticity.

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livingwater | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted September 24, 2011 at 1:17 PM (Answer #4)

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East Egg and West Egg represent new and old money.  Old money is family money and new money is money earned in one generation.  In The Great Gatsby Nick is telling the story in an autobiography form.  Gatsby is a shady Character who flaunts his resources which is new money.  The story is mostly about Nick's encounters with Gatsby.

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mhennawi | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted January 6, 2012 at 4:35 AM (Answer #5)

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Traditionally in Literature The East is represented as the Land of Promise and so it was for Gatsby who stretched out his hand towards the Green Light of the East. The East Egg and the West Egg were both the same shape, separated by the Sound which physically and socially separated Gatsby and Daisy. In mythology as the Siren lured the sailors across the Sound to their death on the rocks, Daisy carelessly leads Gatsby to his demise at the end of the novel.

The East is the residence of  careless aristocrats like Tom and Daisy who spend their lives manipulating people to meet their desires and who care little about the collateral damage they leave behind. On the other hand, the West is associated with adventure, effort and success and the West Eggers duely fight their way up the ladder of social class to win their own share of money and fame. The West Eggers represent the Nouveau Riche, the Petit Bourgeois who have worked to earn their share of wealth and fortune. However,new money is not respected by the aristocrats of our society. The very idea of having to work for money is considered crass. To be born into money means to be born into a priviledged position, to be at the top of the echelon.

At the end of the story, Nick returns to the security of the Middle West and ultimately returns to a life of mediocrity. He no longer hankers after a life of wild excitement. He returns to his roots and to the security of what he knows. Perhaps the Mid West is not the ragged edge to the world after all. So he goes back to the beginning, completing the full circle, where the story began, in the Middle West.

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mariaantonieta | College Teacher | eNoter

Posted August 6, 2012 at 9:51 PM (Answer #6)

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Although East Egg and West Egg represent the traditionally rich and aristocratic families (the former), and the latter the new overnight rich people who are not aristocratic and are suspected for the means they use to become rich, East and West Egg are also a literary devise mirroring the division between Middle West society and eastern American society. In a projection, it can be said that West Egg, where Nick chooses to live, as well as the Middle West ,from where Nick comes,room people who fight for what they have,trying to reach their goals.In the case of Nick, he comes from a Midd West family who worked hard for several generations to become wealthy and well-known. Nick tries to do the same in NewYork. to rise in society from low.

 On the other hand, East Egg families are tarditionally wealthy and their members have become lazy and prejudised after an easy life away from hard work and endulging in pleasures only.They represent the downfall of the American Dream as the original fathers viewed their Utopia. Scott Fitzgerald pictures the decadence of American society by means of Gatsby's character as well as by American Eastern society.

  East Egg represents the vacuity of Eastern society, while West Egg mirrors a society which, in the Middle West, rose due to keeping moral values which include hard work and honesty.


 After experiencing a life of excitement in the East and filling empty inside, Nick decides to return to the type of life that nourished him.

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darshini2501 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted September 6, 2012 at 11:23 AM (Answer #7)

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East Egg and West Egg represents old money and new money. People living in east egg are more sophiticated and come from old money while people in west egg comes from new money and they have more moral compared to east eggers. East Eggers are shallow people and looks down upon others and they are careless as well;the best example to this is Tom and Daisy.

In the end Nick returns to the midwest as he got a lesson while living in the east and he hated the emptiness and shallowness of the east eggers.He also becomes more mature while living there.

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