Geography and the Great Gatsby

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The Geography and Setting of The Great Gatsby

The geography in The Great Gatsby contribute to the setting, character development, and the tone of critical events. The setting is important because Fitzgerald uses setting to reveal character. Where people live determines what they do, telling the reader the kind of person they are. Weather often matches the emotional tone of events. The setting of The Great Gatsby is divided into four major areas: West and East Egg, the valley of ashes, and New York City. West Egg is a representation of people who would not be accepted in East Egg because they are newly rich and are not yet socially adapted to the lifestyle. East Egg is where people who are not strangers to wealth live; therefore, they do not need to be pretentious with there money. Tom and Daisy Buchanan support the East Egg theory because they are accustomed to the lavish lifestyle money offers and are comfortable in their financial situation whereas Gatsby supports the contrasted West Egg where he shows off his money to try and win Daisy’s love. New York City is where affairs, making money through bootlegging, and wild parties thrive. The apartment Tom rents out for his affair with Myrtle is here and is home to characters, such as Owl Eyes, who attend Gatsby’s parties. New York is also where Gatsby made his fortune bootlegging liquor. It is for these reasons that New York symbolizes the decay of the American Dream. The valley of ashes is a grey area between the traditions of the Midwest and the moral decay of the East. George lives in the valley of ashes and works so he and Myrtle can have a better life, but it is in the valley of ashes where Tom and Myrtle have their affair, Daisy kills Myrtle while driving Gatsby’s car, and where George decides to kill Gatsby.

Fitzgerald’s idea of using setting to dictate morals is reinforced by the larger contrast between the Midwest and the East coast, the real moral of the novel. Tom, Daisy, Nick, and Gatsby came...
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