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Vanessa Tassone

on 13 April 2015

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In a novel, setting is often used to set a mood and influence the way which characters behave. In F. Scott Fitzgerald's,
The Great Gatsby
, readers are introduced to fictitious environments which serve as the novel's foundation. The settings, East Egg, West Egg, and the Valley of Ashes, each play a major role in the telling of the novel.
East Egg
Old Money
: Those who have inherited the wealth of their lineage, allowing them upper class status. They are found residing in East Egg.
East Egg: Character Analysis
The Valley of Ashes
As a land of poverty, the Valley of Ashes represents the moral and social decay of America in the 1920s. In contrast to both East and West Egg, the Valley of Ashes is where "those who are the victims of the rich" reside (Studyworld). The valley can literally be described as being covered in dust, reflecting its motionless ways.
West Egg
New Money
: Those who have recently acquired their wealth. They are found residing in West Egg.

The Valley of Ashes: Character Analysis
Discussion Questions
1. Do you believe that if the story of Gatsby had taken place in a different time period it would have been as effective in portraying the different characters and themes?
2. Based on the traits that have been discussed, do you believe that any character should have been placed in a setting other than their own?
Works Cited
Through the use of setting, Fitzgerald reflects thematic ideas and the personality of his characters, each representing different traits and lifestyles.
East Egg is used to demonstrate the values opposite of West Egg. It represents development, taste, aristocracy, and leisure which can be seen through the characters residing hither. The people of the East employ its appearance and status as a security, allowing the location to remain elegant
and urbanized. The setting consists of green, mowed
lawns and luxurious mansions
as its appearance is kept in an
impeccable state. East Egg is
reflective of moral decay and
social cynicism as characters
lose their trust and judgment
of right and wrong. East Egg is
a very corrupt region.
Tom and Daisy Buchanan
Jordan Baker
In the East, characters reflect the attractive appearances of surrounding dwellings in order to disguise repugnant realities.
Tom and Daisy Buchanan reside in a mansion which is implied as being superior to those around it.
"Their house was even more elaborate than I expected, a cheerful red-and-white Georgian Colonial mansion, overlooking the bay"
(Fitzgerald, 12).
The dwelling is considered to be very attractive while what goes on within says otherwise.
On the surface, Tom and Daisy are characterized by charm.
Tom is a contemptuous and hypocritical man whose attitude consists of racism and sexism.
Tom fails to live up to the moral standards he sets for others and abuses those around him while doing so.
Daisy acts superficially in order to mask the pain caused by her husband, Tom.
"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy -- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness [...] and let other people clean up the mess they had made..."
(Fitzgerald, 170)
Jordan Baker is a woman characterized by cynicism and boredom along with wealth and beauty.
She was
"incurably dishonest. She wasn't able to endure being at a disadvantage and [...] had begun dealing in subterfuges when she was very young in order to keep that cool, insolent smile turned to the world..."
(Fitzgerald, 58).
Jordan's exterior glamour camouflages an inner void.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby.
Hammondsworth: Penguin, 1950. Print

STUDYWORLD STUDYNOTES: The Great Gatsby. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2015.
"This is a valley of ashes – a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of ash-grey men, who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air"
(Fitzgerald, 26).
It is in the Valley of Ashes that the city's ashes are dumped, reflecting its inhabitants who are dumped on by those around them with no hope for an escape.
Myrtle and George Wilson
Those who inhabit the Valley of Ashes wish to escape, however, they find themselves being unable to do so.
Myrtle temporarily achieves freedom through her affair with Tom.
George Wilson is often described as being covered with dust from the ashes produced by the factories surrounding where he and Myrtle live; he is a lifeless man.
As George and Myrtle attempt to leave the valley behind, Myrtle is brought to her death proving that the two cannot depart successfully.
The Valley of Ashes begins symbolizing death which ultimately does occur.
in the Valley of Ashes
Tom's visits to the Valley of Ashes demonstrate the difference between the rich and the poor as those who
are considered upper class often look down on
those living in poverty.
As George confronts Tom about the car that
Tom will be selling to him, Tom threatens to
sell it somewhere else after all
" (Fitzgerald, 28).
Tom often taunts George who he feels superior to. In response George immediately retracts his words as he feels inferior.
West Egg, "
the less fashionable of the two
," (Fitzgerald, 10), represents ostentation and young ambition through lavish displays of wealth and poor taste. The West society is one of a great extravagance as those who find themselves in West Egg often participate in a great deal of partying and drinking. Through brilliant appearances, the West desperately tries to be like the East, but ultimately realizes the difficulty in doing so as "
East Egg
condescending to West Egg
" (Fitzgerald, 46). West Egg represents the stereotypical lifestyle of the 1920s. The characters who are of new money status work harder to obtain the money they desire as opposed to
those of old money
West Egg: Character Analysis
Jay Gatsby
Nick Carraway
In attempt to equalize with the East, West Egg is depicted as being flashy and garish. West Egg's pursuit to attain its goal is reflected through the characters of the West as they try to do the same.
Jimmy was bound to get ahead. He always had some resolves
" (Fitzgerald, 164).
Gatsby discovered a different motivation, Daisy, and created an inner drive, hoping to eventually acquire a self-made fortune and the heart of the one he loves.
Gatsby's gaudy mansions reflects his desire to be recognized as upper class.
Gatsby envisions a ladder toward success which "
he could climb [...] if he climbed alone
" (Fitzgerald, 107).
Gatsby refuses to allow his dream to slip away from him despite his inability to reach it, bringing him to his demise.
Nick begins the novel by stating that he is "inclined to reserve all judgements" (Fitzgerald, 7).
As the novel progresses, Nick grows as a character and forms perceptions of those around him, giving up infinite hope.
Nick realizes that the American Dream of happiness and individuality has been lost and replaced with one of wealth.
He suggests that the West Eggers' inability to adapt to the cold nature of the East has brought upon a great tragedy.
Interpretation #1:
Gold glitter is used to represent West Egg as it is considered to be flashy and consists of those who are new money
Gold tinfoil is used to represent East Egg as its appearance is used as a security blanket. It also demonstrates an older look for those of old money.
Interpretation #2:
Gold glitter is used to represent East Egg as it represents leisure and taste. East Egg is also the wealthier of the two eggs.
Gold tinfoil is used to represent West Egg as the West tries to be like the East but fails in doing so.
For Both:
Black sand is used to cover the base, demonstrating the Valley of Ashes which represents death and dullness.
The egg is placed on top of the base showing East and West Egg's superiority to the Valley of Ashes
Monopoly money is placed along the bottom of the egg demonstrating the rich coming out of the poor.
The Great Gatsby
, Fitzgerald develops different settings in order to reflect different thematic ideas and characters. In East Egg, dwellings are considered to be very attractive while what goes on within them says otherwise. The appearances enabled by wealth are used to cover the realities of the East. In West Egg, the setting attempts to be like the East but fails to do so as this is a difficult task. Characters in the West each have ambition, however, their goals are impossible to achieve. The Valley of Ashes is the setting in which the city's ashes are dumped. It is here that poverty resides and those who are of wealthier status look down on those residing in the valley. Fitzgerald's task of developing each setting differently enables the reader to better understand each character, giving a better understanding to the novel as a whole.
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