The Great Gatsby – Planning Grid: Setting

Describe at least one important place in the written text.

Explain how that place helped you to understand an important message in the text.


Setting Important Message Evidence x2
Valley of Ashes Failed American Dream “About half way between West Egg and New York the motor road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter of a mile, so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land. This is a valley of ashes—a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.”



East Egg & West Egg Represents ‘old money’ meaning the people that live here have had their wealth for a long time. They were born into wealthy families and never had to work hard to make themselves a living.
Manhattan People trying to make wealth, and the quest to make riches and get pleasure.


“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”  ‘The Great Gatsby,’ a 1925 novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Nick Carraway, the stories narrator tells the story of Jay Gatsby’s quest from rags to riches to acquire his love of 5 years, Daisy Buchanan. The story takes place in New York, and many of these settings show main ideas that the book promotes, These settings being The Valley of Ashes, East Egg and Manhattan. 

Throughout the story, the Valley of Ashes shows the idea of the American Dream being a failure. “It shows the quest for wealth as the rich indulge themselves with regard for nothing but their own pleasure.” Our first view on the valley is when Nick and Gatsby are going through it towards Manhattan. Nick describes the scene as “a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens.” He then adds that it is “where ashes take forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke.” He then goes on to describe the people of the valley as “ash-grey men, who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.”  When he says this it paints a picture of the poor and how they live in this really dirty environment that isn’t the ideal place to be living. It also informs the reader of the social decay that is present in this setting which is a result from the rich not caring. Fitzgerald uses this setting to illustrate that the world has lost care for people that are less fortunate as what they are. They are just left to rot in the slums and ghettos of the dirty neighbourhoods that are spread all over our globe. The American Dream is ideally meant to be equality of opportunity to anyone, but the people that are dumped in the Valley of Ashes aren’t given any opportunities and are certainly not treated equal to people who live in the East Egg for example. The wealthier people just sit back with their feet up as people that struggle for money are working to make a living for themselves and a family that relies on them. Fitzgerald is trying to put the message across to the real world that maybe people should make more of an effort to create equality throughout our time on this planet, because every person does deserve it and they only are here once.

Secondly, Fitzgerald uses the East Egg and West Egg as some of the main settings for the characters throughout the story. They are situated in Long Island, New York. East Egg is across the bay from Gatsby and Nick’s houses and is where Tom and Daisy lives, and West Egg is where Gatsby and Nick live, and where Gatsby’s huge, extravagant parties go down. West Egg is said to be the “well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is the most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them.” East Egg is said to be the location of “Old Money,”  meaning that the people that live there have had their wealth and riches since they were born and came into a family that already had money, like Tom and Daisy, whereas West Egg is “New Money” meaning these people have just come into riches and made it there by themselves, sometimes illegally, like Gatsby. The East Egg and West Eggs are a representation of the American Dream being corrupt.


One Reply to “The Great Gatsby – Planning Grid: Setting”

  1. Make sure you fully unpack your evidence, just like the close reading we do in class. You want to show your readers how Fitzgerald manipulates language to get his point across- pinpoint this manipulation for them.

    With your intro- look at the end of this again. How can you ensure the flow continues from start to finish. It dies away in the last 2 sentences.

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