The Great Gatsby Setting: Where Does The Great Gatsby Take Place?

The Great Gatsby setting symbolizes several of the book’s themes.

The Great Gatsby is a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald and set in the 1920s. The story occurs in New York City and Long Island’s North Shore.

The book follows Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway, and Daisy Buchanan, among others.

While the novel is fictional, it is based on real people and events from that time.

The Great Gatsby Quotes With Page Numbers

A picture of the shore of Long Island, with the text overlay:"Where Does The Great Gatsby Take Place?"


The Great Gatsby Setting: Where Does The Great Gatsby Take Place?

“The Great Gatsby,” a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, takes place in the United States, with most of the characters coming from the Midwest and finding themselves on the East Coast.

The main settings within the East Coast constitute three distinctive areas:

  • Manhattan
  • Long Island
  • the Valley of Ashes (An industrial part of Queens).

Manhattan prominently features Tom and Myrtle’s apartment in Harlem and a high-end suite in the Plaza Hotel near Central Park.

In the novel, Long Island is split into two very affluent towns, West Egg and East Egg. East Egg houses the older, well-established families, while West Egg amalgamates the less fashionable and nouveau riche populace.

  • Tom and Daisy Buchanan reside in a red and white Georgian mansion in East Egg.
  • West Egg is home to two main settings: Jay Gatsby’s lavish mansion and Nick Carraway’s smaller rented house.

The story’s portrayal of Queens is primarily confined to George Wilson’s garage and the adjacent road, providing a direct route between Long Island and Manhattan.

One of the real-world inspirations for these settings is believed to be Oheka Castle in Long Island, underlining Fitzgerald’s remarkable talent for creating unforgettable settings.

Fitzgerald’s careful and detailed crafting of these diverse locations has allowed The Great Gatsby to depict a vivid illustration of the East Coast during the extravagantly decadent era known as the Roaring Twenties.

Each setting in the novel, from the sprawling opulence of Gatsby’s mansion to the cramped airlessness of a suite in the Plaza Hotel, is meticulously designed to encapsulate character, mood, atmosphere, and emotions.

This makes the settings more than just locations – they act as active components of the narrative, reinforcing the characters’ traits and amplifying the novel’s overall aura and theme.

Fitzgerald’s effective use of setting ultimately underscores the question: how does an environment shape, reflect, and impact its inhabitants and their actions?

The diverse settings in The Great Gatsby go beyond mere backdrops, playing a pivotal role in the story’s development and exploring its underlying themes.

The Great Gatsby American Dream Quotes


West Egg The Great Gatsby

West Egg, introduced in “The Great Gatsby,” is one of two peninsulas on Long Island.  It is known for housing the nouveau richer.

Unlike their East Egg counterparts, those on West Egg do not come from aristocratic backgrounds but have amassed their fortunes more recently.

West Egg’s residents, although wealthy, lack the subtlety and refinement inherently associated with the aristocracy. This contrast is often reflected in their ostentatious displays of wealth and somewhat debauched social customs.

One key resident of West Egg is Nick Carraway, the novel’s narrator. Despite his affluent upbringing, Carraway chooses to reside here rather than the more sophisticated East Egg.

Fitzgerald metaphorically describes the two locales as “the dissimilar twin brothers,” wealthy neighborhoods but vastly different. The writer uses this dichotomy to illustrate the sharp distinction between new and old money society during the Roaring Twenties.


East Egg The Great Gatsby

East Egg, as depicted in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” portrays the affluent and aristocratic society in Long Island, New York.

Inspired by Fitzgerald’s life experience living in Long Island, East Egg is home to people known as the “old money,” referencing those born into wealth and privilege.

This community is epitomized by the characters Tom and Daisy Buchanan, who indulge in a life of extraordinary luxury and exclusivity, separate from the city’s bustling core.

The houses in East Egg are not only characterized by wealth but are notably elegant. They appear as “white palaces glittering along the water,” reflecting their inhabitants’ refined and cultivated tastes.

Notably, the residents of East Egg are often depicted as condescending towards their West Egg neighbors. They seek to differentiate themselves and preserve their social status.

Tom Buchanan’s house, a prominent feature of East Egg, exhibits this ostentatious wealth with lush gardens, French windows, and embellishments of gold. The interiors, drenched in shades of pink, red, and white, represent the charm and elegance that define East Egg’s aristocracy.

While the residents indulge in an overt show of their wealth and taste, an underlying tension becomes evident, hinting at the societal pressures and complexities associated with their privileged position. 


The Valley of Ashes The Great Gatsby

The Valley of Ashes is a pivotal reflective symbol in “The Great Gatsby,” representing the grim consequence of unquenchable greed.

This desolate landscape is the physical manifestation of the disquieting divide between the affluent and the working poor in the roaring 1920s.

Encased between West Egg, home to the nouveau richer, East Egg, the cradle of the aristocratic old money, and the bustling excitement of Manhattan, the valley marks a gloomy halfway station.

To underscore its metaphorical significance, Fitzgerald poignantly refers to it as the Valley of Ashes rather than identifying it as a real-world location. The author portrays this place as “a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens.”

It is a testament to the moral and social degradation left in the wake of the hedonistic pursuits of the wealthy, epitomizing the debris of the American Dream.

The perpetually toiling inhabitants of this ash-ridden place, like Tom Wilson, embody the struggle of the working class, eking out a living amidst the disregard and ignorance of the opulent passers-by.

Drawing attention to the Valley of Ashes, Fitzgerald ingeniously unveils the grotesque underbelly of the Gilded Jazz Age.


The Great Gatsby Setting Time and Place

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book “The Great Gatsby” is set on the East Coast of America during the Roaring Twenties, specifically in 1922.


The Great Gatsby Setting Significance

The setting in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” is not just a backdrop, but a character, meticulously designed to reflect the spirit of the 1920s and the novel’s underlying themes.

The choice of setting is an important aspect of the narrative as Fitzgerald uses it to underscore the decadence, extravagance, and hedonism of the Roaring 20s, and further alludes to inherent socio-economic distinctions and moral decrepitude.

The East and West Egg: The East Egg, home to Daisy and Tom, represents old wealth, aristocracy, and traditional social norms. On the other hand, the West Egg, where Gatsby’s lavish mansion is, portrays new wealth and self-made individuals. The division between the two highlights the stark class and cultural divisions of 1920s America.

Gatsby’s Mansion versus Daisy and Tom’s Mansion: Gatsby’s mansion, symbolizing the opulence and excess of the era, contrasts with the traditional elegance of Daisy and Tom’s home. The houses reflect their owners’ characters and desire as Gatsby’s continual extravagance aims to lure Daisy.

The Valley of Ashes: This desolate, gray industrial area symbolizes the neglected underbelly of the American dream and the stark reality of socio-economic disparity. The ashes cover everything, like the greed and moral decay introduced by wealth and desire to consume and cover the characters.

Manhattan and Long Island: Fitzgerald uses these venues to illustrate the differences between the fast-paced, crowded world of business and the lush, slower-paced world of the elite — replicating the socio-economic divide.

The novel is also set in the summer of 1922, the heyday of the Jazz Age, characterized by economic prosperity and cultural dynamism, yet foreshadowing the impending Great Depression.


The Great Gatsby genre

“The Great Gatsby” is a multifaceted novel that primarily falls under the genre of modernist literature. Modernist literature represents a significant shift in traditional storytelling, focusing more on subjective experience than objective reality.

In the case of this novel, the focus lies heavily on the interior character of its protagonist, Jay Gatsby, and his disillusionment with aspirational concepts such as the American Dream.

Simultaneously, the novel explores elements of satire, intricately criticizing societal standards and conventions prevalent during the 1920s, thereby giving it a satirical edge.

Additionally, some interpret the poignant narrative as having elements of tragedy, given the disastrous and heart-rending fate that befalls Gatsby.

It’s important to note that while the novel does contain romantic elements, primarily in the doomed love affair between Gatsby and Daisy, it does not classify as a romance novel due to its ultimately unfulfilled and tragic love story.

Blending styles and themes in “The Great Gatsby” makes it a modernism, satire, and tragedy novel.


What city does The Great Gatsby take place in?

“The Great Gatsby” primarily takes place on the east coast of the United States, particularly in New York City and Long Island. This encompasses numerous distinctive settings that are integral to the novel.


Is West Egg a real place?

Yes, West Egg represents a real-life location. It mirrors a part of Long Island in New York, specifically the area known as Great Neck today. However, “West Egg” is a fictional name created by F. Scott Fitzgerald for his novel “The Great Gatsby.”


Where is the West Egg supposed to be located?

West Egg, as depicted in The Great Gatsby, is based on the actual location of Great Neck, a peninsula of Nassau County that borders Manhasset Bay. Separated from East Egg (Cow Neck) by the Valley of Ashes, West Egg is portrayed as the dwelling place of the so-called “new money” individuals who have amassed their wealth recently during the 1920s. 


What is the difference between West Egg and East Egg who lives on each?

The difference between West Egg and East Egg is primarily based on wealth, inheritance, and social values. East Egg is home to the “old money” class – those who inherited their riches and comfortably fit into the upper echelons of society. In contrast, West Egg houses the “nouveau riche” or self-made individuals who have recently amassed their wealth, often through strenuous effort and unorthodox means.


What does West Egg symbolize?

West Egg symbolizes the emergence of a class of newly-rich individuals. Though wealthy, the residents of West Egg lack established traditions and are typically seen as less refined by old-money elites, reflecting class separations in the era.

The lavish lifestyle and ostentatious displays of wealth among West Egg inhabitants underscore the indulgence and rapid rise of nouveau riche during the Roaring Twenties.

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