Discuss the importance of setting in The Great Gatsby, The Kite Runner and O What is that Sound

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Write about the importance of places in the telling of the narratives you have studied.

In ‘The Great Gatsby’ Fitzgerald creates a divide between West and East Egg in order to symbolise the stark contrast between wealth and status which permeates the novel. Despite both Eggs being home to fabulous wealth and ‘separated only by a courtesy bay’ they are both near opposites in the values they endorse. Unlike the aristocratic East Egg, West Egg is home to the nouveau riche, people who have neither the social refinement, nor connections to move up to East Egg. This disparity between the classes is accentuated through the contrast between Tom and Gatsby’s houses which are each located on a different Egg. Tom’s house; which exists on East Egg, is immediately described as a beacon of affluence ‘more elaborate that (Nick) had expected’ showing it surpassed his expectations, despite his knowledge of the ‘white palaces’ prior to his visit to Tom’s house. The house is described as a ‘colonial mansion’ which suggests status and relative antiquity, therefore the house could not be bought by anyone rich, rather it had to be inherited or bought with social power. Moreover, the ‘reflected gold’ symbolises the wealth of Tom and the expense of his home. All these images which show East Egg to represent the pinnacle of society sharply contrast with Gatsby’s ‘imitation’ house, which is made to look comparably vulgar. This shows that despite the affluence in West Egg, the area and its occupants are not parallel to the class of those at East Egg. The social barrier defined by the contrast of the Eggs also foreshadows the death of Gatsby’s dream of shedding his existence in the parvenu, and becoming part of a higher social class, exemplified through his schedule to ‘practice elocution’. Gatsby is subservient to the upper classes to which he yearns to belong ‘his Rolls-Royce became an omnibus’ showing he is not equal. The impossibility of breaching the social barrier is shown by the patrician Tom’s attitude towards Gatsby, he calls him a ‘common swindler’ and christens his car a ‘circus wagon’ which shows the distaste of the aristocratic families resident at East Egg for the vulgar new rich bourgeois resident at West Egg.

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Similarly Fitzgerald uses the Valley of Ashes to represent the intolerance of the rich, and their desire to remain separate from the poor. ‘Between West Egg and New York the motor road hastily joins the railroad.’ The use of the adjective ‘hastily’ shows how the rich population of West Egg and New York desperately wish to avoid the ‘desolate area of land’ which is the Valley of Ashes, home to relatively impoverished citizens. Furthermore, Fitzgerald very deliberately describes both Eggs in chapter one, followed by the Valley of Ashes in chapter two. This draws an elliptical effect which presents the ...

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