Describe the Buchanans' house in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The home of Daisy and Tom Buchanan is expressive of a motif of F. Scott Fitzgerald's setting in The Great Gatsby. This motif was stated in Fitzgerald's "Echoes of the Jazz Age" as the author wrote, "It was an age of miracles, it was an age of art, it was an age of excess, and was an age of satire." 

When Nick Carraway narrates that he drove to East Egg to meet "two old friends whom I scarcely knew at all," he is shown the magnificent house of the Buchanans', a house that Nick describes initially as "a cheerful red and white Georgian Colonial mansion overlooking the bay." This architectural style was popular in the late nineteenth century in the United States, particularly in the South as plantation homes.

Tom then directs Nick's view toward a beautiful, Italian garden. Traditionally, this is an artistic and geometrically designed garden with fountains, clipped hedges, evergreens shaped in various ways, all in harmony and balance. Flowers are limited and are generally in no more than two colors.  Beyond this sunken garden, there is an acre redolent of roses beyond which is "snub-nosed" motorboat that bumps against the dock as the waves roll in. Tom boasts that the boat formerly belonged to "Demaine the oil man."

It is an interesting fact that rigid symmetry characterizes both the Georgian Colonial house and the Italian garden, suggesting, perhaps, something about the owner. The interior of the house, like the garden, is limited in color, but it differs in other respects from what is outside. There is "a rosy-colored space" after Tom and Nick enter the house; this space is "fragilely bound" to the house by opened French windows at either end.

A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding cake of the ceiling—and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea.

 Nick observes that "the only completely stationary object in the room is an enormous couch upon which two women appear to be buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon." 

Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The mansion owned by Tom and Daisy Buchanan is aptly described in the very first chapter of The Great Gatsby as Nick, the narrator, visits it for the first time:

 "Their house was even more elaborate than I expected, a cheerful red-and-white Georgian Colonial mansion, overlooking the bay" (6).

This description is quite extraordinary, considering that on the previous page Nick describes the typical homes in East Egg to be nothing less than palaces.  One must assume, then, that Tom and Daisy's home was even more dazzling than most. 

"The lawn started at the beach and ran toward the front door for a quarter of a mile, jumping over sun-dials and brick walks and burning gardens" (7). 

When one considers the vast amount of land on Long Island that the Buchanan mansion alone encompasses, that in itself is quite a monetary feet (even for the time):

 "The front was broken by a line of French windows, glowing now with reflected gold and wide open to the warm windy evening" (8). 

Fitzgerald couldn't end Nick's description without pandering to the staggering wealth of the roaring twenties.  Even the Buchanans' home "reflected gold" in more ways than one.  There is no better inhabitant for this glittering place than Daisy, as Fitzgerald's novel will go on to prove.

jennifer-taubenheim eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Buchanan’s house is an important symbol of their status, as well as their wealth. It is located in the East Egg which is considered to be the fashionable side of Long Island. This is where the people with “old money” live. Their home is a beautiful Georgian mansion with an enormous green lawn. The yard is described as having beautiful gardens, brick walkways and sundials. The home has French doors and windows to remind them of the times when they lived in France. The home is everything you would expect that the home of people of their social station to be, and then some.

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The Great Gatsby

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