5 Reasons Gettysburg College Is Straight Out of The Great Gatsby

Each English major has that one book that inspired them to choose a college experience littered with monstrous reading assignments and commissions to edit papers. For me, it was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. I’ve read it six times, and each time I read it I discover new ways to relate to it. While sitting in my backyard over the summer, I read the novel cover-to-cover for the sixth time and was overwhelmed by a sense of déjà vu, and not just because I practically have the book memorized. I realized that just as I was spending my summer back in the West ruminating over my experience at college on the East Coast, Nick Carraway was doing the same after his summer on West Egg. Both Nick and I had some enlightening observations to make about our peers.

1.    Most students see themselves as the Jay Gatsbys of the world, when in fact they are the Nick Carraways.


We like to see ourselves as cool and collected. We think that we’re “the life of the party”, when in fact we’ve just been thrown into a social scene which we don’t understand and through which we will spend most of college hopleessly stumbling. Then there are those few Toms and Myrtles thrown into the mix who will shove past you in the Bullet sandwich line without so much as a remorseful glance.


2.  The East vs. West distinction is ever-present.

While most students hail from New England and the Mid-Atlantic, there is a smattering of West Coasters who are trying to navigate the culture shock. As one of those students, I am familiar with the initial excitement that Nick experiences upon moving to West Egg and meeting Gatsby, as well as his brooding observations of his East Coast peers.  Also, why is everyone obsessed with Wawa? In-N-Out is where it’s at.  

3.     Further embodying the East vs. West metaphor is the East Quad vs. West Quad disparity (a.k.a. East and West Egg).

At Gettysburg this disparity is found in the first-year residence halls. While East Quad has air conditioning, West Quad has coat closets, mistakenly labeled as dorm rooms.

4.    Alumni Weekend and the Meyer Wolfsheim Complex

Former students return to their alma mater for a brief moment to hang out with their younger friends and then go back to the real world, leaving us in our quasi-adulthood mirage, which only lasts for a hot second before we are thrust into the role of Meyer Wolfsheim ourselves.


 She sees everything. You can fool me, but you can’t fool JMR.*

*metaphor courtesy of my roommate