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Geography and Social Status

Page history last edited by carolinasaurus rex! 5 years, 5 months ago

Understanding Geography & Social Status in The Great Gatsby


The Great Gatsby  takes place in 1920s New York, specifically in the "big city" of Manhattan and the wealthy Long Island.  Here, Great Neck represents Fitzgerald's "West Egg" and Manhasset represents "East Egg".





The Industrial Revolution fueled a small class of American entrepeneurs, innovators, and businessmen who made millions of dollars over a short period of time.  Proud of their accomplishments, they reveled in their wealth and wanted everyone around them to know how successful they were.  They expected to enjoy the same status as other wealthy people now that they, too, were rich.  Learn more about how "The Gilded Age" got its name and the "nouveau riche" got theirs in this clip:




We can imagine that Gatsby's house -- a lavish mansion -- looked much like "The Breakers" and "Marble House" mansions featured in these videos.  Like the Vanderbilts, Gatsby was new to the wealthy class and wanted to be accepted by his new peers; however, old money families like the Astors looked down on the newly rich or nouveau riche as a lower social class, even though their financial class rivaled that of the old money families.  Daisy and Tom come from old money and enjoy a higher social status than the new money, like Jay Gatsby.






East Egg (known as Manhasset Neck) and West Egg (known as Great Neck) are part of Long Island, New York -- near Manhattan.  As you can see, Manhattan looks a bit like a peninsula here, but is actually an island.    


Notice how the railroad runs from the Eggs and through Queens before entering Manhattan.  Fitzgerald's "Valley of the Ashes" is actually set in what we know as Queens.  Here are some photos of Queens in the 1920s.


Queens was nowhere near as urban as Manhattan, nor as pastoral as the Eggs; in fact, it was rather desolate.



Here is a dump in Queens -- quite a heap of ashes, don't you think?



Perhaps we can imagine a garage like this as where Myrtle lived with her husband.


In order to travel from the pastoral Eggs to urban Manhattan and all its fashionable clubs and hotels, people had to drive or take the train through the Valley of Ashes.


It was a bleak industrial wasteland...




...in which the forgotten plans of yesterday echoed throughout.


The bleakness and poverty of the Valley of Ashes contrasts greatly with the wealth and opulence of high society's Manhattan. 


This postcard features both the natural beauty of Central Park, as well as the gorgeous Manhattan skyline. 



Here is the famous Plaza Hotel, a mecca for many socialites -- including Daisy, Tom, Nick, and Gatsby who escaped the heat of a scorching summer afternoon by passing time and cocktails in a hotel room there. 



The Plaza's atrium is an excellent example of the lavish opulence socialites came to expect (and took for granted) in their lives.  Here is another picture of the Plaza's atrium, today.


And a current photo of the Plaza Hotel's exterior:


The island of Manhattan's Central Park:






Assignment: Now that you've seen and learned the history of the actual places Fitzgerald used as inspiration to create the setting of The Great Gatsby, write an ARL 7 Response Writing discussing HOW and WHY  Fitzgerald creates contrasting settings (East Egg vs. West Egg OR Both Eggs vs. Valley of Ashes, you choose) in order to illustrate WHAT message about the people who live in both.


Your assignment will be graded based on the following rubric:








(who + what)

Clearly stated in a single sentence

Lacks specificity in the exact who or what, but the general gist is understandable

Unclear/ not fully articulated; requires guesswork for understanding



(character, action, and plot fit)

Key details seamlessly worked in to quote’s introduction and/or explanation, providing clarity for the reader.

Key details included before/after the quote to provide the reader the basic gist of who’s doing what where.

Incomplete key details leave the reader questioning who’s doing what where.

Incomplete or missing key details leave the reader clueless as to who’s doing what where.


2-3 effective quotes prove/demonstrate the mini-claim

2-3 relevant quotes support the mini-claim

2-3 related quotes attempt to support the mini-claim

Quotes are too few or poorly chosen and do nothing to support the mini-claim


Explains why/how the quotes are significant to the mini-claim, while also linking BIG IDEA to real world

Explains why/how the quotes are significant to the mini-claim

Retells what’s happening in the quotes



Meets or exceeds requirements of goal ARL.   

Meets requirements of goal ARL.

Does not meet requirements of goal ARL, but does accomplish task of a lower ARL .

Does not achieve requirements of any ARL options for this assignment.








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