East Egg in The Great Gatsby

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  • 0:04 Keeping Up with the Joneses
  • 0:40 The Roaring 20s
  • 1:08 East Egg & West Egg
  • 4:01 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

'The Great Gatsby' is an American novel that highlights the social changes of the 1920s, including the difference between new and old money as personified by the neighborhoods of East and West Egg. Learn about the significance of East Egg in 'The Great Gatsby' and then test yourself with a short quiz.

Keeping Up with the Joneses

Have you heard the expression, 'keeping up with the Joneses?' This is a common phrase that describes the tendency for people to feel social pressure to impress others with material possessions. These may include a certain outfit, a piece of jewelry, a car, or even a house. In other words, when we see people around us with nice stuff, we want it too.

This social comparison and competition is nothing new. Throughout history, there have been divisions between the 'haves' and the 'have nots.' These are some of the issues addressed in The Great Gatsby by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The Roaring 20s

The setting of The Great Gatsby is the summer of 1922 on New York's Long Island, which sits conspicuously in the shadow of New York City. The author uses the characters and events in the book to make a statement about social class and the moral shifts that were present in 1920s America. This time period is frequently called the Jazz Age or the Roaring 20s, because America was transitioning from a very conservative country to a more liberal one.

East Egg & West Egg

Jay Gatsby is a wealthy man who lives in a mansion in West Egg. His rival, Tom Buchanan, is also a man of great wealth who lives in an estate in East Egg with his wife Daisy. As a young girl, Daisy had previously dated Gatsby. Gatsby's sole motivation in the book is winning Daisy back.

The Buchanan's home is nestled safely and gloriously in East Egg, which like today's Beverly Hills, is the land of the rich and famous. Sprawling manicured lawns and massive estates glisten under the care of pampering household staff while the elegant owners run the world. Only the best and the most important people live in East Egg. The Buchanan's house is grand even for East Egg, and it oozes class and wealth. There is a formal air in the home that suggests that Tom and Daisy are royalty of sorts and must be catered to. Guests are served tea and crumpets in gracious style.

Jay Gatsby lives in West Egg, which is populated by the less powerful and unpopular social climbers. The homes in West Egg are nowhere near as grand as those of East Egg. Some West Eggers, like Jay Gatsby, have made it big with illegal or socially unaccepted means, such as bootlegging (selling alcohol during Prohibition) or gambling. Unfortunately for them, their wealth cannot earn them the respect or acceptance of the higher social class. Instead of serving tea and crumpets, Gatsby throws wild parties.

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