Gatsby stands in stark contrast to the denizens of East Egg. Though Nickdoes not yet know the green light's origin, nor what it represents forGatsby, the inner yearning visible in Gatsby's posture and his emotionalsurrender to it make him seem almost the opposite of the sarcastic IvyLeague set at the Buchanans'. Gatsby is a mysterious figure for Nick,since Nick knows neither his motives, nor the source of his wealth, nor hishistory, and the object of his yearning remains as remote and nebulous asthe green light toward which he reaches. The relationship between geography and social values is an importantmotif in
The Great Gatsby.
Each setting in the novel corresponds to aparticular thematic idea or character type. This first chapter introducestwo of the most important locales, East Egg and West Egg. Though eachis home to fabulous wealth, and though they are separated only by a smallexpanse of water, the two regions are nearly opposite in the values theyendorse. East Egg represents breeding, taste, aristocracy, and leisure,while West Egg represents ostentation, garishness, and the flashymanners of the new rich. East Egg is associated with the Buchanans andthe monotony of their inherited social position, while West Egg isassociated with Gatsby's gaudy mansion and the inner drive behind hisself-made fortune. The unworkable intersection of the two Eggs in theromance between Gatsby and Daisy will serve as the fault line ofcatastrophe.
Summary of Chapter 2Halfway between West Egg and New York City sprawls a desolate plain, agray valley where New York's ashes are dumped. The men who live herework at shoveling up the ashes. Overhead, two huge, blue, spectacle-rimmed eyes—the last vestige of an advertising gimmick by a long-vanished eye doctor—stare down from an enormous sign. These unblinkingeyes, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg, watch over everything thathappens in the valley of ashes. The commuter train that runs betweenWest Egg and New York passes through the valley, making several stopsalong the way. One day, as Nick and Tom are riding the train into the city,Tom forces Nick to follow him out of the train at one of these stops. Tomleads Nick to George Wilson's garage, which sits on the edge of the valleyof ashes. Tom's lover Myrtle is Wilson's wife. Wilson is a lifeless yet