- List the four main settings in the novel. Provide a description for each setting and explain what each setting represents.
West Egg is one of the regions off the coast of New York. Both Gatsby and Nick live in West Egg which is located across the bay from East Egg. West Egg is referred to as being the home of “new money” people, new money meaning that they have made their own money rather than inheriting it. For people like Gatsby, however, they had to look at getting that money through illegal means. People that live in West Egg aren’t as respected as those that are from East Egg, this is why even though Gatsby has plentiful amounts of money, he will never be able to enter into the same social class as Daisy and “win her back.” “I lived at West Egg, the – well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them.” – Gatsby. West Egg can be related back to illusion in many ways. For example, the weather reflects on the characters that live there. Such as when Daisy is with Gatsby and he says to her: “If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay…You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock.” This reflects onto how Gatsby’s dream was never meant to be, because just as his dream was looking clear and as if it was going to come true. Everything comes in and blocks his view of the end dream. As well as this, when Gatsby and Daisy reunite again the weather is pouring down with rain, this is just another sign that Gatsby’s dream is slipping away from him.
Valley of Ashes
“This is the 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…” The valley of ashes belongs to the poor and working class people of New York. The valley of ashes is the home of Myrtle, Toms affair. Whenever Tom is driving to New York he always stops at Wilsons garage (Myrtle’s husband) to get petrol. But really Tom is just using this as an excuse to see Myrtle. This setting represents the endless journey of people trying to get wealth.
East Egg is the side of the bay where Tom and Daisy’s mansion is situated. Gatsby purposely bought his house on the other side of the bay so that he could always keep an eye on Daisy. The setting of East Egg represents “old money,” meaning that people that lived there were born into their wealth and did not have to earn it themselves. “Across the courtesy bay, the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water.” There lived the people that Gatsby based his own life around, the ones who were part of a “…distinguished secret society to which she(Daisy) and Tom belonged.”
New York City
In this text, New York was used as a sort of hideout that the characters used to take a break from their everyday lives and forget about all of their problems. Tom, in particular, used New York to hide away his secret rented apartment in which he and Myrtle had their affairs. Nick thought that New York was just another one of Gatsby’s extravagant parties except much more bland and uneventful. “At the enchanted metropolitan twilight, I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others – poor young clerks who loitered in front of windows waiting until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner – young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.” New York was used by all of the characters in the book to hid away in and hide all of their problems.
- Select two of the settings from above and discuss how these settings helped you to understand the idea of illusion in the novel. Use quotes to support your ideas.
This setting describes the illusion “that it is the more fashionable of the two,” the other being West Egg. The wealth that West Egg holds is meant to give it happiness and flair. When really all that it does is just fill it with bland and disappointing people. For example, we could look at Tom and Daisy’s relationship. Daisy is only staying with Tom because of his money, even though she is well aware that he is having affairs with other women.
Valley of Ashes
The Valley of Ashes illustrates the illusion that you can’t always escape from poverty and become wealthy. There are two examples of this in the text. Firstly between Tom and Myrtle. Myrtle tried to escape from the valley of ashes when she thought she saw Toms car speed past and she ran out onto the road and was killed. And Gatsby when he became illegally rich in order to try and chase his dream of getting the girl that he loved, this, in the end, resulted in him being shot in the back of the head and killed.