The Symbolism Of West Egg And East Egg In The Great Gatsby
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 practicality- that was close at hand” (Fitzgerald 151). Daisy gets tired of waiting for Jay Gatsby to return from fighting in the Great War so she proceeds to the next stage of her life and makes the practical decision to marry Tom because of his wealth and status.
Though Daisy and Gatsby are both considered wealthy, Gatsby’s nouveau riche, new money, lifestyle becomes intolerable for Daisy. Both originate from the Midwest, however Daisy lives in East Egg which is considered to be classier, more upscale, and respectable than gaudy, fresh, and disreputable West Egg where Gatsby lives. This social status divide in Daisy and Gatsby’s relationship dates back to when they were first courting five years ago: “... he had deliberately given Daisy a sense of security; he let her believe that he was fully able to take care of her. As a matter of fact he had no such facilities” (Fitzgerald 149). In the blooming of their relationship,...