West Egg, especially, still figures in my more fantastic dreams. I see it as a night scene by El Greco: a hundred houses, at once conventional and grotesque, crouching under a sullen, overhanging sky and a lustreless moon.
As Nick compares his memories of the decadent lifestyle of the East with the Mid-West, he recalls West Egg in particular. “Fantastic dreams” perhaps suggests that all of its inhabitants seemed unreal due to their social facades, much as dreams have the ability to seem real, yet are not.
By comparing West Egg to a night scene created by “El Greco,” a Greek-born, Spanish Renaissance artist of the 14th and 15th century, Nick highlights the “grotesque” and eerie aspects of the scene. Fitzgerald’s description does not mention a particular painting, but bears a close resemblance to one of El Greco’s most famous works, View of Toledo:
The imagery of a “sullen, overhanging sky and a lustreless moon” suggests that West Egg culture represents a perversion of nature—that nature itself is depressed, drained of vitality, in this environment. Contrast this with Nick’s later description of Long Island as seen by the first Dutch settlers: “a fresh, green breast of the new world.”
To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit “The Great Gatsby (Chapter IX)” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and leave a comment on the lyrics box