In “Chapter 9” of The Great Gatsby, Nick decides to move back to the Midwest. Before he leaves, he sees Tom and asks him what he had told Wilson after Myrtle's death. Tom admits he told Wilson that Gatsby owned the yellow car which causes Wilson to shoot Gatsby and then himself. Nick comes to terms with Tom and Daisy when he realizes that they represent all that he feels disdain for. Fitzgerald uses diction and imagery in this scene to suggest that location shapes the behavior and the morals of his main characters that all have moved from the Mid-west to the East in order to express his own opinion of wealth and opportunity.
Fitzgerald’s imagery contrasts the nature of the East to the Midwest. The Midwest is a symbol of morality, conservatism, and pragmatism. Nick describes the west as a “winter night and the real snow, our snow, began to stretch out beside us and twinkle against the windows, and … a sharp wild brace came suddenly into the air . . . We drew in deep breaths of it . . . unutterably aware of our identity with this country for one strange hour before we melted indistinguishably into it again. That’s my middle-west” (184). Snow represents purity and integrity. Fitzgerald clarifies that in the Midwest on
Fitzgerald uses the word "provincial" to suggest Nick"tms Mid-west values. The old time stability and respectability is represented by the Mid-West: a symbol of morality, conservatism and practicality. Nick is able to see the morality that East lacks when he realizes that "they were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made" (187-188). Fitzgerald compares the East and the Mid-west to night and day. He shows the hypocrisy of the East because it tries to appear conventional but it really is an unusual place. The American Dream with all its promise and opportunity is portrayed as false. They have cleared themselves of all the morals and values of the West by ridding themselves "of my provincial squeamishness forever" (188) and becoming a part of the East. This new generation signified all that was different from the previous generation. Nick maintains the ethics of the Mid-west while he lives in the East. The word "brace" represents a supportive and compassionate environment that is the Mid-west. Fitzgerald"tms harsh description of the East portrays his opinion of it. As Nick begins to see the corruption of the East, Tom and Daisy mold to its expectations. All of the main characters: Tom, Nick, and Daisy "were Westerners" (184). Fitzgerald uses the word "distorted" to portray the idea that Nick can"tmt help but see the East as unethical.