How is The Great Gatsby a realistic novel? 

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The setting of the novel is a real place. East and West Egg were sections of New York that actually exist(ed). The difference in societal strata was determined by how wealth was attained, whether it was "old money" (inheritances passed on from generation to generation) or "new money" (money that had been earned through an individual's hard work and entrepreneurial skills). This also determined where one lived. The new wealth lived in West Egg and the old wealth in East Egg. Such class distinctions are common even today.

There is a distinctiveness about each of the classes - new wealth comes across as rough and ready while old wealth is distinguished by a hierarchy and sophistication, as it were, lacking in new wealth. These distinctions are obvious in the novel. Tom Buchanan's haughtiness is derived from his being of "old money." He looks down on Jay Gatsby who is "new money." "Old money" provides security and stability, whereas new money could be lost just as quickly as it had been...

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