How Is West Egg Different From East Egg

In The Great Gatsby, what is the difference betwen East Egg and West Egg?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Think of your question as a battle of the riches! East Egg and West Egg are areas of New York separated by a small bay. The residents of East Egg are considered "old money," which means that wealth has been in their families for generations and generations. Think of people like the Rockefellers or the Kennedys.  The people living there have never known a life with out riches and comfort. Daisy lives here with her brutish husband, Tom.

Across the bay, the residents of West Egg are those that are considered of "new money." These people have made their money within their own lifetimes, and many have lived in poverty or less comfortable means before making it big. Think of people like Oprah Winfrey.  Jay Gatsby lives in West Egg.

The East Eggers generall consider those in West Egg as being gaudy, flashy and of lower status. Examples are the types of people who come to Gatsby's wild parties in their flashy clothes and gaudy cars. As one might say, they are the "wannabes." They tend to look down their noses at parties like Gatsby throws.

This difference sets up the conflicts between Tom and Gatsby, and rich and less rich in the novel.

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

East Egg and West Egg are both enormously wealthy suburbs of New York City, located on Long Island where they face the ocean. East Egg is the home of those people who enjoy the highest social prestige, as well as their money. Their fortunes have been inherited and their roots run deep in American society. Theirs is "old money." The East Eggers place great value on tradition, family background, social convention, and manners, and they look with contempt upon others who were not born to their kind of wealth. The Buchanans live in East Egg. Tom and Daisy are example of the old money and social snobbery of East Egg.

Those who live in West Egg, like Gatsby, are also very wealthy, but they are the social newcomers who have made their money through commerce (legal or otherwise). They lack the sense of entitlement found among the East Eggers, and they are not "refined" or "polished" in their manners. Gatsby represents this social class. He owns a mansion and dresses well, but he lacks the background of an old and well established family. He is uneducated. He has a great deal of money, but he displays it very conspicuously--a sign of terrible taste to someone like Tom Buchanan.

By developing the social differences between East Egg and West Egg, Fitzgerald develops one the novel's themes. No matter how wealthy Gatsby might become, he would never belong to the Buchanans' upper social class because he was not born into it. He would always be an outsider.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial