1 Nick describes that he is squeezed
between "two huge places that rented
for twelve or fifteen thousand a season".
This is indicative of him being caught in
the middle of Gatsby and the
Buchanan's emotional crossfire.
2 The rich have leisure time to worry about how they're
perceived socially. They spend time conforming to a
certain standard (like not wearing pink suits).
2.1 Fitzgerald also hints at the valley being the huge
gulf between rich and poor. The valley is "vaguely
disquieting" to Nick, suggesting he is uncomfortable
with the moral decay it suggests. The spiritual
barrenness of american society, the materialistic
style of people.
3 East Egg is the wealthier
of the two. Despite all his
money, Gatsby lives in
West Egg, suggesting he
was not able to complete
his transformation into a
member of the social
4 The distance that
from Daisy isn't just
the bay, its class as
5 The second contrast is the city
scenes and the suburban
ones. The city is used to hide
Gatsby's dealings with Meyer
Wolfsheim and Tom's affair
with Myrtle. However they
both leave what they truly
care about behind on Long
6 We open just
after World War
1 in the roaring,
in effect but
7 Myrtle and George Wilson are set in the greying, destitute Valley of the Ashes.
Fitzgerald didn't know this yet, but we do, that the excesses of the 1920's
collapsed with the stock-market in 1929, leading to a much grayer life across the
country, just like the lives of those in the V.O.A who endured the consequences
of the decadence of those around and above them.
8 Although Gatsby's house is huge
and lavish, it is tasteless, showing
his lack of real sophistication.
Nick sneers at this "Hotel de
Ville". This suggests the house is
inappropriatley grandiose for
such a dwelling, an imitation, just
like Gatsby himself. It is obviously
new too, meaning it has no past
heritage, something Tom mocks
Gatsby for when he calls him "Mr
Nobody from Nowhere".
9 The V.O.A--an industrial wasteland. Fitzgerald uses agricultural imagery to
stress its barren nature: "a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into
ridges and hills and grotesque gardens." The "spasms of bleak dust" that
coated the men themselves in ash-grey depicts how even the people themselves are washed of all color.
9.1 The word "ashes" itself has connotations of penitence and
humiliation, perhaps even death, cremation and destruction.
Fire can destroy the grandest thing and leave only ashes
10 Nick also
the owner and
11 At first Nick embraces the freedom that life in New
York seemed to offer but by the end of the novel,
he is rejecting it. In the final chapter he admits that
"even when the East excited me most...even then it
always had a quality of distortion."
12 Nick describes a scene from one of his "fantastic dreams" in which four
well-dressed men are carrying a stretcher on which lies a drunken woman in
a white evening dress whose "hands sparkle cold with jewels". They take her
to the wrong house but no one knows her and no one cares, suggesting the
heartlessness of New York and its moral vacuum. This is the society that
attend Gatsby's parties but ignore his death.