New York City is a symbol of what America has become in the 1920s: a place where anything goes, where money is made and bootleggers flourish, and where the World Series can be fixed by a man like Meyer Wolfsheim. New York is a place of parties and affairs, and bizarre and colorful characters who appear from time to time in West Egg at Gatsby’s parties.

The idea of setting as moral geography is reinforced by the overriding symbolism of the American East and the American Midwest. This larger contrast between East and Midwest frames the novel as a whole. Nick comes East to enter the bond business, and finds himself instead in the dizzying world of The Jazz Age in the summer of 1922. He is fascinated and disgusted with this world, and he eventually returns home to the Midwest, to the values and traditions of his youth.

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