Where was Gatsby’s house? Was it a regular house or a fabulous mansion? Where did Gatsby grow up, and more?
Jay Gatsby lives in a mansion in West Egg. Nick Carraway, his neighbor, describes Gatsby’s house in great detail in Chapter 1.
The Great Gatsby may have been written almost 100 years ago, but it still captivates audiences. F. Scott Fitzgerald used his tale of a love triangle gone bad to describe the times he was living in and the pursuit of the American Dream.
This leads many to ask questions regarding one of the main characters, Jay Gatsby.
Let’s look at these questions and talk about Gatsby’s mansion in West Egg, the fashionable East Egg, and answer questions related to this fascinating novel in our Great Gatsby study guide.
Does Gatsby Live in West Egg?
Yes, he does.
The narrator, Nick Carraway, talks about Gatsby’s mansion in great detail. While the house might be located in the less fashionable area of Long Island, Nick describes the house as being an imitation of the Hotel de Ville in Normandy, filled with fountains and 40 acres of meticulously manicured lawns.
However, Nick seems to feel that the mansion is ostentatious and lacking class despite its lavish display of wealth.
It’s interesting to note that Nick says the house is “an imitation” when one considers that the owner Jay Gatsby is also just an imitation of Dan Cody.
Since the mansion was recently built, it lacks the old-world charm that old money gives a home.
It’s every bit as big and grandiose as the mansion that Tom Buchanan and Daisy Buchanan own. Yet, the fact that the house is new and Gatsby’s money is new makes the Great Gatsby mansion not as chic or as valuable as houses in the East Egg.
Why Does Gatsby Live in West Egg?
Some cities are segregated by race, others by price.
In this instance, these two huge places, Tom’s mansion and Gatsby’s mansion are separated by old and new money.
In the 1920s, many people found fortune either through hard work, smart purchases, or illegal means, such as Gatsby’s bootlegging operation.
This newfound wealth allowed people to buy the same things as people who inherited their money, but it couldn’t buy them the status that old family names had secured.
New mansions were built for those with “new money” in a different location so that, in theory, new money people would have new money neighbors and associates.
Those who came from old money had no wish to associate with those who had recently acquired their wealth.
This social barrier angered Fitzgerald, and it shows in some of Nick’s commentaries.
Where Did Gatsby Live Before West Egg?
Like his mansion, Gatsby is an imitation of a rich man he worked for, Dan Cody.
Born into poverty on an unsuccessful North Dakota farm, James Gatz has a change of luck while he was working as a clam fisher on Lake Superior in Michigan. Seeing Cody’s yacht is about to hit some rocks, Gatz saves the drunken Cody’s life and his yacht.
Cody takes on the 17-year-old James Gatz, who immediately changes his name to Jay Gatsby. Gatsby sails with Cody, who teaches him everything he needs to know about how to dress, behave, and talk like a rich gentleman.
After Cody dies, Gatsby joins the army and then begins studies at Oxford College in London in hopes of improving his education and earning enough cash to marry Daisy.
He drops out of Oxford and returns to the US only to discover that Daisy did not wait for him. She married Tom Buchanan.
Convinced that Daisy will fall in love with him again if he has equal wealth, Gatsby lives in New York City, where he operated bootlegging and other illegal schemes with his companion Meyer Wolfsheim.
Gatsby lived in several places in his lifetime before purchasing the mansion in West Egg.
Where Do Daisy and Tom Live?
Tom and Daisy Buchanan live in several places before the novel begins.
The couple meets and marries in Kentucky. They go on an extended honeymoon around Europe and even the US. It is during this lengthy honeymoon that Tom first cheats on Daisy in Santa Barbara.
Apparently, the couple moves to Chicago. In the first chapter, Daisy asks Nick if anyone in Chicago still remembers her.
While Daisy doesn’t say it outright, one gets the impression that the couple had to move from Chicago because of another one of Tom’s affairs.
During the argument in Chapter 7, Daisy tells everyone—
“Do you know why we left Chicago? I’m surprised that they didn’t treat you to the story of that little spree.”
This is what caused the couple to move again, this time to the East Egg of Long Island.
After Gatsby’s death and the deaths of Myrtle and George Wilson, Daisy and Tom apparently plan to move yet again.
Nick tries calling his cousin, certain that she would want to attend Gatsby’s funeral or at least send flowers or a card, but he is told repeatedly by the servants that the couple has left Daisy’s house and that there is no forwarding address or phone number given.
Whether the couple will ever return to their Long Island mansion remains unsaid in the novel.
There is no doubt that Fitzgerald was actually referring to locations he was well acquainted with in his own lifetime, Great Neck, Long Island and New York.
Today, it is not uncommon to see new movie stars buying mansions next to billionaires who have owned the house for centuries.
In the 100 years since Fitzgerald penned his novel, the line between new money and old money has been erased for the most part. However, very little has changed in the lives of the rich and poor.
Written by Kerry Wisby – GatsbyFlapperGirl.com
Owner & Founder of GatsbyFlapperGirl.com
Kerry Wisby, a former teacher with a BA in English, is the founder of GatsbyFlapperGirl.com. With a passion for all things 1920s, including The Great Gatsby novel, her website is the ultimate source for Roaring Twenties fashion, history, and party ideas. Read more about Kerry here.