The Great Gatsby

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East Egg vs. West Egg

March 20, 2012 by hccnvanderkolk · 16 Comments · Social Class in America

When Nick Carraway moves from the Midwest to the East Coast, he settles on Long Island, NY in the West Egg.  However, he oftentimes visits his cousin Daisy in the East Egg.  Throughout the novel, it becomes apparent that the West Egg represents “new money” and the East Egg represents “old money” and aristocracy.  An individual who has “new money” is someone who has gained a great amount of wealth within his or her own lifetime.  ”Old money” refers to individuals who have inherited money from generation to generation.

- How are these two groups represented in The Great Gatsby? What are some indicators of social class that Fitzgerald includes in his descriptions of the two Eggs that contrast each other?

- Some people argue that the American dream is still very achieveable today.  Who are some figures in America that have acquired wealth within their own generation?

- Can you think of any signs or indicators today that could differentiate whether an individual belongs to “new money” or “old money?”



16 Comments so far ↓

  • Seb S

    The inhabitants of the “East Egg” are depicted as being full of themselves and at times condescending. Examples of this can be seen when Nick first enters Tom’s house and Daisy and Jordan are lounging somewhat like kings on a couch, and don’t even rise to great him. Meanwhile, the inhabitants of the “West Egg” are portrayed as young, full of life and accepting. An example of this is shown when Gatsby invites Nick into one of his extravagant parties. Totally changing the subject, some examples of people who have achieved the American dream would be Mark Zuckerburg, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates. I think it would be offensive to stereotype those with “new money” as prodigal or those with “old money” as provident so I won’t offer any examples.

    • Lord Jack Louis S

      how do u feel those people acheived the american dream?

      • SebS

        They achieved the American dream as everyone before them has, through perseverance, confidence, hard work, and ingenuity. I’m not saying their’re captains of industry, or even people to look up to, I’m saying that they saw an ideal, a goal they wanted, and they fought tooth and nail for it. Some like Mark stumbled onto the tool that would raise them up, others copied and built off of other peoples success like Steve. Just in case your question referred to why I think these people achieved the American Dream as in what my view of the American dream is that they achieved, they have the freedom to shape themselves, they wanted to work in their respective fields, so they did, they are there own masters and thereby conquerors of the American dream.

  • Hannah S.

    Throughout the story, Gatsby is concerned with showing off his wealth to impress Daisy. He shows anxiety over whether or not she enjoyed herself at his parties or was impressed by the size of his house. This is a case of new money trying to impress old money and trying to be accepted into the elite group of the accepted and reigning wealthy. The fact that the narrarator describes Gatsby’s parties as being sad, but only realizes this when veiwing it through Daisy’s eyes. New money in the west egg is seen as just a sad, weak reflection of the east egg across the water; glamorous and exciting, but nothing more than a weak surface facade when compared to the real thing.

  • Kristen S

    Today wealth is acquired in many different ways. It can be inherited from family or earned by oneself. Inherited money is often regulated and the person who receives it might not be able to spend it on just anything they want. Sometimes people who inherit “old money” don’t have to work at all in their lifetime, so they could be more involved with their own self. If a person earns their own money they might be more frugal with it. Since they had to work hard to earn this “new money” they usually won’t immediately spend it all, but instead have a budget.

  • Ian W.

    The two eggs are distinct in the way that their structures are present, such as with all the fancy, extravagant houses and the others that are just treated with less respect and have as Gatsby said, uneaven lawns. There are then also people who have achieved a vast amount of wealth in their own lifetime instead of just being handed it down through generations. Some of these people are have been Andrew Carnegie or, a person from more recent times, Bill Gates. There is also a way that people carry themselves in their life that reflects as if they live on “new money” or “old money”, the people may be pompous and arrogant if they are used to always having money, or they respect others as they had been in the same position themselves.

  • Sierra C.

    The East and the West egg exemplify the gap between the “new money” and “old money” groups in society, as well as how both interact with the middle class. The East egg is very prestigious and looks down upon those in the middle class. There are very obvious role expectations and a certain level of exclusivity. The West egg on the other hand is more open to comingling social classes and the advancement of society. The line between upper and middle is definitly blurred. These lines blur even more today but there is still a level of the old money prestige and the new money openess to change. People such as Steeve Jobs, Bill Gates and even Oprah have made a name for themselves and shown that anyone can succeed with alot of hard work and maybe a little luck. I think that people who have earned their money are more likely to appreciate its value and to appreciate those who are still trying to succeed, as they were once in the same position. It is those people, the people who have earned a reward for their work in the world, who are truly living the American dream.

  • Abby J

    In the Great Gatsby both the East and West Egg are described with distinct characteristics, each island is known for one specific detail. The West Egg is seen as the “new money” or the people who have worked hard to obtain that money, while the East Egg is seen as the “old money” or the people who have inherited their money from family members. The Buchanan’s live a life of inherited wealth and an upbringing in a higher social class allowing for them to live on the East Egg. Gatsby is a prime example of new money because his mansion only came about because of his individual fortune, with his hard work and focused mind Gatsby acquired the money needed to form his mansion, he shows his self obtained wealth through his mansion on the West Egg. Each island is known for having these specific characteristics that Fitzgerald is trying to show the readers. Some of the indicators of social class are seen through the actions of Daisy and Tom, and Nick and Gatsby. Daisy and Tom see themselves at a higher social class because of their inherited fortune that remains omnipresent throughout the novel, even though in my perspective the people of the West Egg deserve to be considered the higher social class because of the amount of work put forth to achieve that wealth. Nick and Gatsby know that they both worked hard for their money and are seen as energetic workers with a goal at stake; with this in consideration they also see themselves as a higher social class. Some figures who have acquired wealth within their own generation are Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Phil Mickelson, and etc. They have achieved the American dream because all of these figures put forth hard work in order to achieve a goal that many people cannot regularly achieve. One can differentiate between “new money” and “old money” through family owned businesses. In family owned businesses family members will normally obtain the wealth of their elder and take their place in the family business, this shows us an example of a life of “old money”.

  • Thalia M.

    The two groups are represented in the way that the inhabitants of each egg live. Gatsby lives his life more extravagantly than Daisy at East Egg. He shows this through his parties and general lifestyle throughout the book. He has new money that is burning a hole in his pocket. The people with old money in East Egg are much more thrifty. The social classes, although they should be similar, are drastically different because of how each received their money.

  • Sam M.

    I think that one clear indicator between the Easy Egg and the West Egg is that the people like Gatsby living in the West Egg with their new money are way more likely to spend it on material possessions and things like parties and butlers. People in the East egg like the Buchanan’s are more likely to not show off their money as extravagantly and instead use it here and there, but save most of it. Some people in today’s society that have achieved this “American Dream” are Bill gates, Steve Jobs, and basically any sports player that goes professional. The same applies for the “new money” today, they’re more likely to just spend it on cars and huge houses and material possessions where as the “old money” most likely already have those things and just simply invest in stocks or save their money. I think it is just natural that when a person who is not use to obtaining so much wealth receives it and wants to immediately spend it and show it off. When someone grows up with money they aren’t going to show it off when they get more they’re going to act normal because they’re use to it.

  • Elena O

    People of West Egg are those who worked hard in their lifetime to reach a high social status and their “new money”. East Egg is viewed as the residences of “old money” or those who merely inherited wealth and barely worked for a cent of it. Those of “old money” however display better class than those of “new money” throughout the novel. For example Fitzgerald frequently described how nice and eloquent the homes of people like Daisy’s where, while his own home was a compilation of greed and possessions. In today’s world I believe is is hard to see those who have new money and old money. People like Justin Bieber have acquired wealth in their own generation.

  • Emily C

    In the Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald shows the East Egg representing old money and the West Egg new money. The Buchanans are from East Egg and it is aparent in the novel by how they act. They are more sophisticated and know how to use their money since they have lived with it their whole lives. Gatsby is from West Egg and he wants to live it up being rich now and growing up poor. Today we see Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and all famous athletes and celebrities representing new money. They all worked hard for their money and it has paid off. The main difference between new and old money would be that people with new money don’t know how to treat it and many times become bankrupt. Old money would want to maintain the family name and wealth at all costs.

  • Katy H.

    The two eggs have distinct characteristics. The west egg is known as “new money” and east egg is known as “old money”. The inhabitants of west egg are inviting, kind and their lifestyles are simplistic, whereas the people of east egg are conceited, and extravagant. Those in east egg did not achieve the American dream for themselves, it was handed to them. Those in west egg on the other hand have to work hard to achieve the American dream. I, along with many others, believe that the American dream is still achievable. Some examples of people who have acquired wealth within their own generation are Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates. These people are proof that through hard work and determination, the American dream is still very achievable today.

  • Daniel D.

    - “Old money” is represented in East Egg residents in how they act. They are much more reserved in their spending of their money and don’t know anything about life without lots of money. The residents of East Egg also focus on good manners and not doing crazy extravagant things such as Gatsby’s parties. The “new money” is represented mainly by Gatsby in his huge parties, fabulous lifestyle, and laid back attitude.
    - The American dream is still achievable today. This is shown through figures such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg.
    - People with “old money” seem to be much more reserved in spending and much more formal while people with “new money” seem to spend much more when they initially get their money and have little worry about how much they spend.

  • Collin T.

    Each of the two eggs mentioned represent the different forms of the upper class. The west egg represents “new money,” people who has acquired the wealth within their lifetime, and the east egg represents “old money,” people who has inherited their wealth. In the Great Gatsby, the main reason as to why Gatsby wanted to become rich and successful was to impress Daisy. This symbolizes how the “new money” are trying to fit in and impress the “old money” today. Some examples of people with “new money” today are Larry Page, Jerry Yang, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates. In order to differentiate between “old money” and “new money” one can observe how they spend their wealth. Those who has just acquired their wealth will be more frugal than those who has inherited their money because they had to work for their money. Through their hard work, they understand the true value of money, thus, they will spend it more wisely.

  • Sarah V.

    The West Egg represents “old money”, or those who were born into the money, like the Tom and Daisy Buchanan. Tom and Daisy live in a grand house, and act as if no one is placed above them. The East Egg represents “new money”, or those who aquire their money throughout their lifetime, like Gatsby. Gatsby made his money through illegal acts, just to try and get Daisy back, and to have the lifestyle he wanted. Although some may see the American Dream as unachievable today, that is far from the truth. Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs are great examples of the American Dream who made it successful by hard work and persistence. “New money” usually tend to blow their money at first but then realize that they need to save it and be careful with it for the future. “Old money” however just throw their money around without alot of cares.

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