In The Great Gatsby, why does Fitzgerald include a catalog of Gatsby's guests?

Expert Answers
Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the beginning of Chapter IV, Fitzgerald includes a list of Gatsby's party guests. The purpose of the catalog is to emphasize the social differences between people who live in East Egg and those who live in West Egg. The East Eggers are people of inherited wealth who live a cultured lifestyle. They are representative of "old money" and enjoy higher social prestige. Gatsby's guests from East Egg have traditional names, such as the Chester Beckers, Dr. Webster Civet, and the Voltaires. These are people who went to Yale and literally turn up their noses at others.

The guests from West Egg have names/identities that suggest new money gained through socially disreputable means. From West Egg, Gatsby's guests include a politician, a movie executive, a promoter, and a man who murdered his wife. They have ethnic names such as Schoen, Gulick, Cohen, Schwartze, McCarty, Bemberg, Da Fontano, Mulready, and Eckhaust. The most symbolic name on Gatsby's West Egg guest list is that of James B. ("Rot-gut") Ferret, surely a bootlegger.

These class distinctions relate directly to Gatsby's relationship with Daisy Buchanan. Gatsby lives in West Egg, as someone with his background would. He is quite wealthy, just as Rot-gut Ferret is wealthy, but no matter how much money he acquires or how he flaunts it, Gatsby will never belong in Daisy's world of inherited wealth. This is a distinction that eludes him from the beginning of their relationship until its tragic conclusion.

Read the study guide:
The Great Gatsby

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question