What Are Some Examples of Juxtaposition in “The Great Gatsby?”

In Fitzgerald’s novel, “The Great Gatsby,” characters Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby represent one example of juxtaposition in the book. Another example is the difference between wealthy West Egg and impoverished Valley of Ashes.

Juxtaposition, a literary technique using characters, ideas or settings to contrast ideas, aids Fitzgerald in highlighting the idiosyncrasies of American society during the 1920s. In particular, he emphasizes the differences between the upper and lower classes.

Carraway, the narrator of the story, moves into a small house next to Gatsby’s mansion. His personality is friendly, transparent and a little naive. He is eager to become acquainted with the famed Gatsby. Although Carraway works as a salesman, his familial ties to the wealthy class makes a friendship with Gatsby a natural event.

Although he throws lavish parties, Gatsby hides the details of his past and the nature of his business. In love with Carraway’s married cousin, Daisy, he builds his empire of wealth to prove his worthiness of her.

Daisy’s husband, Tom, has an affair with Myrtle, who lives in the Valley of Ashes. The poverty and ugliness there juxtaposes with the mansions and aesthetic beauty of West Egg.

Although Fitzgerald uses juxtaposition to contrast wealth, poverty, idealism and realism, these collide together for Carraway, who becomes depressed following Gatsby’s murder.