Lesson SummaryThe Great Gatsbyby F. Scott Fitzgeraldmakes an important statement about 1920s America, a time commonly referred to as the jazz ageand the roaring 20sdue to the relaxing moral attitudes that were common in that period. The novel uses the neighborhoods of East and West
Egg to present the social differences between the newly wealthy and the entrenched aristocracy. Tom and Daisy Buchananlives in East Egg, the wealthy and desirable side of town. Jay Gatsbylives in West Egg, the side that is filled with inappropriate people and behavior who havemade their money through illegal means. No matter how much money they earn, the residents of West Egg will never obtain the power and social standing held by those in East Egg.The Roaring 20sWhat do you know about the flapper era in America? Short dresses, wild parties, and jazz come to the minds of most. America in the 1920s was a place of great change. The notion of the American dream was changing from one of freedom to wealth as industry and economy thrived and many people became millionaires overnight. This great increase in wealth added to the changing social vibe in the country. America was in the process of a social shift during the 1920s. Conservative values and dress were giving way to liberal thinking and revealing styles. Many people found the changes scandalous and corrupt. A great divide emerged between socioeconomic classes. This clash of status is exemplified in F. Scott Fitzgerald'snovel The Great Gatsby, a story of money, lust, tragedy and love gone terribly wrong. Geography in The Great GatsbyThe setting created by Fitzgerald serves as a reflection of the class wars that were common during 1920s America. One of the main characters, Jay Gatsby is a self made man of great wealth. Gatsby lives in a gaudy mansion in West Egg, the poorer and less desirable side of town. West Egg is skirted by the valley of ashes, a filthy and sinful area that divides Long Island from the glitz, glamour, and indulgence of New York City. Tom Buchanan is a member of the upper class. He lives in an East Egg estate, the wealthy area ofthe resort village, with his wife Daisy who is the former flame of Gatsby. The geographical divide between West and East Egg represents the social stratification between the haves and the have nots. Despite the fact that Gatsby has acquired great wealth, he will never measure up to Buchanan in the eyes of society because Buchanan's family has been wealthy for a long time while Gatsby made his money himself. Gatsby's lack of social status causes Daisy to reject his advances. In short, Daisy chooses the safety of long time wealth and acclaim that Buchanan offers over true love and devotion with Gatsby. Now that we understand the geography of the setting and the general plot of the book, let's take acloser look at the valley of ashes.