The Symbolism of West Egg and East Egg in The Great Gatsby

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In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, a working class mistress and a wealthy bootlegger pay the ultimate price for having lovers outside of their social structure. The social structures in the novel do not revolve solely around the poor, the working class, and the wealthy. Fitzgerald creates a divide between those inheritably rich and those who have worked for their riches. The symbolism of West Egg and East Egg, two fictional communities located on Long Island, are used to emphasize the strain on romantic relationships between people of varying class structures within the wealthy class.

Fitzgerald uses Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s marriage as a standard for how an ideal marriage should be based on status and wealth. Tom comes from a wealth of inheritance that supports his and Daisy’s frequent travels abroad and his enjoyment of horses and racing. Nick Carraway talks briefly about Tom’s affluence just before visiting the Buchanans’:

But now he’d left Chicago and come East in a fashion that rather took your breath away; for instance, he’d brought down a string of polo ponies from Lake Forest. It was hard to realize that a man in my own generation was wealthy enough to do that. (Fitzgerald 6)

Tom easily migrates his abundance of wealth and his wife Daisy eastward to Manhattan, specifically to the suburbs of East Egg where the inheritably wealthy live. Living in East Egg is a perfect fit for not only Tom with his deep pockets that reach back generations, but Daisy as well. Daisy is a Southern Belle who is born and bred to live a life of luxury. Daisy’s decision to marry Tom reflects this notion: “She wanted her life shaped now, immediately- and the decision must be made by some force- of love, of money, of unquestionable prac...

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...damn about you now, but it was a new experience for me, and I felt a little dizzy for a while’” (Fitzgerald 177). Jordan bluntly tells Nick that he was simply a fling and a new, thrilling experience to date, possibly since she is used to dating high scale East Eggers with deep pockets.
In America today, relationships are typically found on love, sex, companionship, or lust. Americans would like to think that they have the freedom to choose their spouse based on compatible characteristics and attractive qualities, rather than the wad of cash in the person’s wallet or their limitless credit cards. During the Jazz Age, marriages and relationships were between people of similar status and wealth. F. Scott Fitzgerald shows through the tragedy that ensues relationships between an East Egger and a West Egger that interclass relationships were widely frowned upon and fatal.
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