The ideal of the American Dream has hardly changed over the past century. The dream is a unique American phenomenon. It represents a nebulous concept that is exemplified by a number of American values. Many deem wealth and success to be the means to this paradigm. When stability, security and family values also become part of the suburban lifestyle, the American Dream comes close to becoming reality. Nick Carraway, the candid narrator of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby, analyzes the legitimacy of this principle through the inevitable downfall of Jay Gatsby. The novel takes place during the roaring twenties' in two sophisticated, affluent Long Island neighborhoods. The people in these neighborhoods epitomize the superficiality and arrogance that distorts the American Dream. Fitzgerald utilizes this environment and its people to examine the negative attributes of the American Dream. .
Fitzgerald portrays two neighborhoods, East Egg and West Egg, to display the slowly evolving corruption of the American Dream. East Egg houses old money sophisticates, and West Egg accommodates the less fashionable "nouveau riche" types. The apparent differences cause the two neighborhoods to develop a seeming rivalry. The different neighborhoods are connected through the characters becoming entangled with each other. Both Carraway, and his wealthy, yet enigmatic neighbor, Jay Gatsby live in West Egg. Carraway lives in a modest bungalow, which is overshadowed by Gatsby's extravagant estate. In his magnificent manor, Gatsby indulges in an excessive and exaggerated lifestyle including many lavish parties: "In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars" (43). Gatsby considers his prodigious wealth and stature to be the means to regain his one true love, Daisy Buchanan. Daisy's aura of wealth and privilege--her many clothes, her perfect house, her lack of fear or worry attract Gatsby's attention and gradual obsession.