The Great Gatsby
CHAPTER I: Nick’s attitudes and perceptions of the world
This first chapter introduces two of the most important locales, East Egg and West Egg. Though each is home to fabulous wealth, and though they are separated only by a small expanse of water, the two regions are nearly opposite in the values they endorse. East Egg represents breeding, taste, aristocracy, and leisure, while West Egg represents ostentation, garishness, and the flashy manners of the new rich. East Egg is associated with the Buchanans and the monotony of their inherited social position, while West Egg is associated with Gatsby’s mansion and the inner drive behind his self-made fortune. The unworkable ...view middle of the document...
The main theme in this chapter is the relationship between geography and social values. In fact, West Egg is home to the “new rich,” those who, having made their fortunes recently, have neither the social connections nor the refinement to move among the East Egg set. West Egg is characterized by lavish displays of wealth and garish poor taste. Nick’s comparatively modest West Egg house is next door to Gatsby’s mansion, a sprawling Gothic monstrosity.
CHAPTER II: Among the Valley of Ashes
The valley of ashes is a picture of absolute desolation and poverty. It lacks a glamorous surface and lies fallow and gray halfway between West Egg and New York. The valley of ashes symbolizes the moral decay hidden by the beautiful facades of the Eggs, and suggests that beneath the ornamentation of West Egg and the mannered charm of East Egg lies the same ugliness as in the valley. The valley is created by industrial dumping and is therefore a by-product of capitalism. It is the home to the only poor characters in the novel.
The party underlines the aspect of each character. Nick’s reserved nature and indecisiveness show in the fact that though he feels morally repelled by the vulgarity of the party, he is too fascinated by it to leave. The party also underlines Tom’s hypocrisy and lack of restraint: he feels no guilt for betraying Daisy with Myrtle, but he feels compelled to keep Myrtle in her place. Tom is shown as a boorish bully who uses his social status and physical strength to dominate those around him. He taunts Wilson while having an affair with his wife, experiences no guilt for his immoral behavior, and does not hesitate to lash out violently in order to preserve his authority over Myrtle. Wilson stands in contrast, a handsome and morally upright man who doesn’t have money, privilege, and vitality.
The main theme is the mystery and excitement built around Gatsby, who still hasn’t appeared. Here, Gatsby emerges as a mysterious subject of gossip. He is extremely well known, but no one seems to have any verifiable information about him. The ridiculous rumor Catherine spreads shows the public’s curiosity about him, rendering him more intriguing to the other characters.
CHAPTER III: Gatsby’s showy and rich world
Gatsby’s party is almost unbelievably luxurious: guests marvel over his Rolls-Royce, his swimming pool, his beach, crates of fresh oranges and lemons, buffet tents in the gardens overflowing with a feast, and a live orchestra playing under the stars. Liquor flows freely, and the crowd grows rowdier and louder as more and more guests get drunk.
Gatsby’s party brings 1920s wealth and glamour into the main focus, showing the upper class at its most luxurious side. The rich, both from East Egg and West Egg, dance without restraint. As the differences between East Egg and West Egg evidences, the reader is emerged in the social hierarchy and mood of America in the 1920s, when a large group of industrialists, speculators, and businessmen with...