A major dichtomy that Fitzgerald explores in the novel is east versus west. How does this relate to the people from the west and who come to the east to live?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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During the 1920s there was a much greater difference between the east and west in America than there is today. New York was exciting, sophisticated, glamorous, full of opportunities for talented and ambitious people, a magnet drawing young people like Nick Carraway from all over the country. Fitzgerald's dichotomy would not apply to present-day America as readily as it did back in the Jazz Age. The things that Fitzgerald disliked about the East Coast are probably as common in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, and elsewhere as they are in New York. The U.S. used to be predominantly agricultural. Most people went to church on Sundays and lived uneventful lives. An enormous percentage of Americans lived on farms or in small towns. These people were written about by writers like Sinclair Lewis, Sherwood Anderson, Hamlin Garland, Willa Cather, John Steinbeck, and many others. In some ways they were better than easterners. But most of the people who came to the east to live probably stayed in the east because it offered more opportunity and more stimulation. Those who went back home for Christmas were likely to feel like strangers and to want to get out of there as soon as possible. America has changed greatly since the time of The Great Gatsby. 

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laila27's profile pic

laila27 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

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The contrst between East and West Egg are one of the main themes which the novel revolves around. Fitzgerald explores this to highlight the seperation between 'old money' (the east) and 'new money' (the west). Within the novel, the residents of East egg made up the aristocracy, they were born into riches and an ostentacious way of living, which contrasts with the residents of the West Egg. The West Egg was considered to be 'new money', where residents did not necessarily come from a wealthy background, but had to work in order to be where they were. In chapter 9, Nick Carrway, upon analysing this dichotomy, reveals his sensitivity towards it. The story is set in the East, yet it is told through the reaction of the Westerners to the fast paced lifestyle on the East. The Easterners being 'new money' felt that they had to compete with the old arostocarcy of the West. The East was linked to the moral decay and social scepticism of New York, while the West associated with more traditional social values.

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