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The Valley Of Ashes Essay Examples

The Great Gatsby: Symbolism In The Valley Of Ashes

The Great Gatsby: Symbolism in The Valley of Ashes

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald has become a literary classic of the 1900's. This book, set in the 1920's, takes place in Long Island Sound and New York. the valley of ashes is found between West Egg and New York City, however in contrast to East and West Egg's rich preeminent society, the valley of ashes is where the poor people live. Its inhabitants are the casualties of the rich who are dumped on by the rest of the world in the same way ashes are dumped on them. The Valley is literally defined by its dust and ash, this is where the ashes from the city's industries are dumped. The alley of ashes, with its brooding eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg,, its grey and dreary backdrop and its contrast to East and West Egg, uses various forms of symbolism. Fitzgerald's use of symbolism, exemplified by the valley of ashes, gives the novel a timeless appeal and saves it from becoming just another period piece.

Within the valley of ashes, above everything else, there stands a billboard with an advertisement for an optometrist. "The eyes of Doctor T J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic- their retinas are one yard high. They look out of no face, but instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a non-existant nose." ( Fitzgerald 26) In this novel these behemoth eyes are made to represent God, or more accurately a dead God that sits and stares while we destroy everything. They act as a constant reminder of society's moral decay, but observe silently, offering neither guidance nor comfort. This theme is still very common today. It seems that fewer and fewer people believe in God, and those who do, see him as a punisher, not a savior. The idea of a dead God is rampant in our society. There is so much destruction, wastefulness and corruption , that it almost seems as if God is a lifeless entity which "Broods on over a solemn dumping ground" (Fitzgerald 26).

The valley of ashes is described as being a dark dirty place covered in grey ash. The colour grey has its own symbolism within the book as it implies the disappearance of hopes and dreams. "transcendent effort of ash-grey men" (Fitzgerald 26) refers to the men who work in the valley of ashes. Their existence is hardly living, they have no dreams. In reference to the valley itself,...

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Symbolism in The Great Gatsby Essay

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The Valley of Ashes as Metaphor in The Great Gatsby Essay

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The Valley of Ashes as Metaphor in The Great Gatsby

Throughout F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, location is a critical motif. The contrasts between East and West, East Egg and West Egg, and the two Eggs and New York serve important thematic roles and provide the backdrops for the main conflict. Yet, there needs to be a middle ground between each of these sites, a buffer zone, as it were; there is the great distance that separates East from West; there is the bay that separates East Egg from West Egg; and, there is the Valley of Ashes that separates Long Island from New York. The last of these is probably the most striking. Yet, the traditional literal interpretation does not serve Fitzgerald's theme as well as a more…show more content…

If it is remembered that ashes circa the turn of the century often referred to garbage, then it is possible to interpret the "valley of ashes" as a "dumping ground." (23) The ash heaps, then, are piles of garbage, and the repeated references to "waste land," as opposed to "wasteland," now make more sense, as does George Wilson's use of "a piece of waste" to wipe his hands. (24-5) For Fitzgerald, the American dream is to get rich and become socially acceptable; Wilson, who has failed, has "wasted" his life, and is now "down in the dumps." He has been cast away by society, just like the rest of the refuse that surrounds him. This, then, seems to be the fate of middle-class dreams--despite being conceived in a land filled with opportunity, they all end up in the landfill.

Yet, there are still inconsistencies with this interpretation, which also apply to the stricter literal view; where does the "gray, scrawny Italian child" down the road by the railroad tracks come from? (26) Where do the workmen come from? (137) If the valley is so isolated and desolate how could Nick even imagine there would be an old man regaling little boys with the story of Myrtle's death? (156) How does such a crowd accumulate next to a dumping ground? (156-7) Why would Dr. T. J. Eckleburg advertise there, train delays notwithstanding? (23) These concerns cannot be fully explained away by the

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