How is Nick affected by West Egg and East Egg in The Great Gatsby?  Explain how these changes are related to the nature of the places themselves.

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Nick Carraway is so greatly affected by the shallowness, immorality, and dishonesty of East Egg and West Egg that, by the end of the novel, he feels compelled to move back to the Midwest.  When Nick first moves to New England he, quite honestly, doesn't know what to think.  Throughout the book, however, Nick learns the difference between the "two unusual formations of land" that are East Egg and West Egg (4).  West Egg is "the less fashionable of the two" (the land of the "new" rich) while East Egg is "across the courtesy bay [where] the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water" (the land of the "old" rich).

Ironically, it doesn't matter which "Egg" Nick is visiting.  He sees only shallowness, dishonesty, and immorality. Gatsby wants to couple with Daisy, but continually uses Nick to do so. Tom tells Wilson who owned the yellow car, hoping to implicate Gatsby.  Daisy falls in love with Gatsby, but doesn’t even attend his funeral.  The only difference is that at least those in West Egg are familiar with "earning" their money where those in East Egg are just used to having money be "there."  Jordan Baker serves as a great example of Nick's observation of East Egg.  “She was incurably dishonest” (59) Nick notes as he observes Jordan’s reckless driving.  Similarly, Gatsby serves as a great example of Nick's observation of West Egg.  Any of Gatsby's frivolous parties are fine examples.  As for Gatsby himself, even after complimenting him, Nick says that "it was the only compliment I ever gave him, because I disapproved of him from beginning to end" (154).  An honest person in a dishonest society doesn’t make a good match.  Therefore, finally understanding the wretched existence of the people both in East Egg and West Egg, Nick moves back to the Midwest. 

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The Great Gatsby

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