The setting of the novel is important, in part, because it provides a great cover for Gatsby and Daisy's affair. It also symbolizes the social strata in this society. It is also important to the plot of the novel; Nick came "East" because he returned from the Great War...
The setting of the novel is important, in part, because it provides a great cover for Gatsby and Daisy's affair. It also symbolizes the social strata in this society. It is also important to the plot of the novel; Nick came "East" because he returned from the Great War a bit disillusioned with his home and in need of some place new.
Daisy can go to West Egg, the less fashionable of the two Eggs, to conduct her affair with Gatsby because it seems so far away from any place that her husband would willingly go himself. In considering its residents beneath his notice, Tom makes it a relative safe haven for his wife to meet her lover.
The tension between Tom and Gatsby is also dramatized by their respective homes: Gatsby might be able to acquire wealth equal to Tom's, but he cannot change his status (something he never really grasps). He can become rich, but he cannot become "old money." Further, the difference between Wilson and Gatsby is also dramatized by their homes: Wilson works so hard and can never get ahead or achieve the American Dream, and Gatsby can achieve something that looks like the American Dream but is not because he has had to engage in criminal activity to acquire it. Their experiences in both of these locations helps us to understand that such a dream is a fiction.
Finally, Nick says that he "came back [from the war] restless," looking for more than what the Midwest offered him. Ironically, the place he thought might help him move on actually turns out to be the place that reinforces the disillusionment he now feels with the world. In the East, he learns how "careless" people can be with one another. He saw senseless death in the war, and he sees it again in New York. This makes this place seem savage and dark in ways that reinforce the book's themes.