How Is West Egg Different From East Egg

What is he difference between West Egg and East Egg? What sets these two areas apart? 

Expert Answers
mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Great Gatsby, there are two cities that are separated by the Valley of Ashes. These two cities are knows as East Egg and West Egg and there are two different classes of wealth in these cities. They are new wealth against old wealth.

East Egg has people living in it that are from old money. They are born into money and have never known anything different. Their parents and grandparents have all come from money. Daisy Buchanan and her husband Tom are from old money and live in East Egg. The people in East Egg are known for being well educated usually at ivy league colleges, such as Yale and Harvard. 

The people that live in West Egg are from new money. These are people who have worked hard and earned their own money. They haven't depended on inheriting money and just worked hard. They  have not had ivy league educations and some of them didn't even go to college. They just went to work. The people in East Egg are seen as corrupt and mean spirited because they have always had money and never had to work for anything. They are more concerned about material things. The people in West Egg are seen as less sophisticated and more innocent about how the elite live their lives. Nick Carraway comes from old money, but decides to live in West Egg.

"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...Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water, and the history of the summer really begins on the evening I drove over there to have dinner with the Tom Buchanan's. Daisy was my second cousin once removed, and I'd known Tom in college. And just after the war I spent two days with them in Chicago."

The contrast between these two cities is great. In East Egg, the people are seen as the wealthy and the elite. In West Egg, they are looked down upon, only because their money is new money and not old money passed down from generation to generation. Jay Gatsby lives in West Egg. He is from new money and his house looks straight across the water to Daisy's. He has always tried to prove that he is worthy of Daisy and he thinks that having this money will show her that. 

The two cities represent the vastly different lifestyles of Daisy and Jay and sets up the tragic events of the story.

ssandhu05 | Student

East Egg is where all the rich and wealthy people lived within their riches. Big houses, lots of parties, lots of spending of enormous amounts of wealth. It is also seen as the idea of the American dream, a dream that everyone wishes to achieve in their lifetime. To be able to live such a luxurious life.

West Egg is the complete opposite of East Egg. It is where the poor people live, mind Gatsby himself. It is the side that has less to be proud of for it lacks the grandness and luxury that is in West Egg. West Egg is seen to be a symbolic representation of the reality that one faces. The cold hard truth vs. the dream the one wishes to acquire.

This explains why Gatsby is living in West Egg, since the dream that he wishes to acquire is in East Egg (Daisy) and he is striving to achieve it. 

West and East Egg can also be representative of the country as a whole. The Western part of American versus the Eastern.

Read the study guide:
The Great Gatsby

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