- Create a map of the settings in the novel either digitally or on a piece of A3 paper. Next to each setting (there should be four in total) list at least two quotes from the novel that described that setting.
PHOTO OF MAP
2. Each of the settings in the novel comment on an aspect of The American Dream. Explain how each of the settings reveals a reality about The American Dream and how this message is reinforced by the characters that live in each setting.
The East Egg:
The people living in the east egg have all been born into their money and status. They did not have to work for what they have, they began with it and this solidifies their social status. The American dream states the opposite of this, that a persons wealth, status and quality of life should reflect their work, ability and accomplishments, the East Egg is a direct example of the dream being false. This is expressed through the characters rather than directly through the settings themselves, the personality and actions of Tom and Daisy are what we base our knowledge of the East egg of, she speaks of the “rather distinguished secret society to which she and Tom belonged.”, this society is made up of the kind of people who live in the East egg, an almost segregated society full of people who believe themselves to be superior to others due to their wealth and status.
The West Egg:
The people living in the West Egg worked for their riches, they move up the social ladder up to what they hope is the top, however, despite gaining this money, they will never be accepted into the highest tier in society because they were not born into it, they have less fashionable, new money; for them, the dream is corrupt. Those in West egg are looked down upon by those in East egg, this is apparent at Gatsby’s parties, “East egg condescending to West” is how Nick describes the scene, the people from East Egg see the people at Gatsby’s parties like animals, behaving recklessly with no thought to the consequences of their wild, careless actions. Gatsby represents how the West egg is an example of the corrupt dream, he has worked & built his life in order to be at the top, to gain his ultimate prize, but no matter what, he will never get what he works for, he will never be welcomed into the secret society that Daisy is apart of despite having the money to get there because he did not start there; he will never reach his fantasy of turning back time erasing the past.
The Valley of Ashes:
The valley of ashes lies between the grand palaces of West and East Egg and the shining excitement of New York City, it is a ghost town, full of people who work with a “transcendent effort” but will always be at the bottom of the social heap. They are described by Fitzgerald as “moving dimly, already crumbling”, stirring up an “impenetrable cloud” which shrouds them from the outside world. Fitzgerald included this desolate place in the novel because it reinforces the idea of the failure of the American Dream; despite their incredible effort, these people will never gain the riches that reflect their labour which directly opposes the idea of the dream.
New York City:
New York city is a representation of the illusion of the American dream, it is seen as the place where dreams come true, where “anything can happen now that we’ve slid over this bridge, anything at all… even Gatsby could happen with no particular wonder.”, meaning, even somebody like Gatsby, who began with nothing, could exist there with his money and unbelievable life. It implies that there, Gatsby could be whatever he dreamt, he could have the highest status, everything he imagined himself having, his fantasy with Daisy could come true, this is an illusion, in New York, Gatsby is still an outsider, more so than ever in the plaza with Daisy, Tom, Jordan and Nick, he is still as far away from his dream as he has always and will always be.