East Egg and West Eggappear as identically-contoured formations of land, “enormous eggs,” separated only by “a courtesy bay.” However, the eggs are dissimilar in “every particular except shape and size.” On West Egg, “the less fashionable of the two,” the houses are built with no regard to codes or restrictions, as Nick's house is a bungalow sandwiched between two mansions. By contrast, the houses on fashionable East Egg “glittered” with “white palaces.” We see the difference between nouveau riche or new money, with the possible implication of lack of refinement or class (West Egg), and old money, with well-groomed houses and lawns accompanying well-groomed, well-bred occupants, who, on the surface, are characterized by gentility (East Egg).
The West Egg residents symbolize pioneers, almost a sterotype of the rugged West. For example, in the West an evening “was hurried from phase to phase toward its close,” in contrast to the pleasure and relative unimportance of work in the East, where making the most money with the least amount of effort seems to be the goal. West Egg, in its eclectic “melting pot” neighborhood, takes on the symbolism and character of the Old West, the land discovered in the fulfillment of dreams. Conversely, elite East Egg comes across as sophisticated, superficial, and smug.