What are the similarity/differences between West Egg, East Egg and Valley of Ashes?for examples: lifestlye, social class, geography, history, significance, money (old/new), and people within the...

What are the similarity/differences between West Egg, East Egg and Valley of Ashes?

for examples: lifestlye, social class, geography, history, significance, money (old/new), and people within the society etc

Asked on by akiza

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I'll review each of these places, then you can draw your own conclusions about the similarities and differences.

The two Eggs are on either side of a peninsula; when you stand on one of them, you can see the other across the water.  Nick says the birds that fly overhead probably have to do a double-take when flying over them, as they are so similar in form.

East Egg is the home of "old money."  Tom and Daisy live here, as do most of Gatsby's party-goers.  The homes are old and established, including all the trappings of the rich (such as stables and polo fields).  These are the people who have presumably grown up with a certain amount of class--but remember who lives here.  And when they "cross the pond," so to speak, these are the people who conduct themselves with amusement park behavior, says Nick. 

West Egg is the home of "new money."  Both Nick and Gatsby live here--Nick's little shanty resides right next to Gatsby's glittering, new, palatial, French-inspired mansion.  Because the money  is "new," the presumption is that these are crude, classless people.  In this case, compare Nick and Gatsby as hosts with Tom. 

The valley of ashes is just as it sounds--a place of despair, desperation, and hopelessness.  The railroad tracks run parallel to the ash heaps for awhile, then veer off as if trying to avoid any further contact with this barren place.  The land is ashen, dusty, and non-descript, as are the buildings and people.  This is where the Wilsons live, and it's the place where Tom frequents enough to find a mistress.  Myrtle is desperate to get out of the ashes; George is desperate to keep her with him.  This is where the tragic accident hapens, as well. 

Fitzgerald uses setting (place) along with characterization to help make his point consistently throughout the novel.

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