The Midwest represents normalcy and traditionalism to Nick as opposed to the decadence, immorality and a "quality of distortion" he finds in the East. He writes near the end of the novel at some length of "vivid" winter memories of the Midwest. The images he uses are traditional and evocative of Currier and Ives: he talks of "the real snow, our snow" of the Midwest, of how it would "twinkle" against the train windows, of the way "a sharp, wild brace came suddenly into the air." For him, the Midwest symbolizes that which is safe and domesticated. It is street lamps and sleigh bells and the shadows of holly wreaths thrown onto the snow by lights in the windows. "I am part of that," he says, describing himself as solemn and complacent and noting that he grew up in the "Carraway" house, in a place traditional enough for homes to be known by their owners' names.
He notes, as well, that all of the main characters come from the "West": Daisy, Jordan, himself, Tom and Gatsby, and wonders if it isn't "some deficiency" they share as Westerners that makes them unable to adapt to the East.
In contrast to the Midwest, Nick perceives the East as fantastic, likening it to an El Greco painting, represented by houses "at once conventional and grotesque."
But despite Nick's attempt to draw a sharp distinction between East and West, one must remember that none of these characters emerged wholly pure from their Midwest background. None were solely corrupted in the East, but brought their baggage with them. These passages point to Nick's role as artist, storyteller and myth maker.