Valley of Ashes--from Gatsby

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  • Topic: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby
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  • Published : November 1, 2010
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The Valley of Ashes-Symbolism in The Great Gatsby
            Another symbol in The Great Gatsby is the valley of ashes. The valley was first introduced in chapter 2. Described as a gloomy land created by the dumping of “industrial ashes,” the valley acquires a sense of decay. It seems as if the rich, men like Tom Buchanan and Gatsby dump their “ashes” in the valley, with nothing but concern for themselves. This connects with the rest of the book, as Tom and Daisy are seen as a “reckless” couple, and one that only cares about themselves.             The negative outlook of the Valley of Ashes also connects to the people that live their. For example, George and Myrtle Wilson own a house in the valley of ashes. The negative perspective of the valley connects with the Wilson’s personalities. Myrtle carries on an affair with Tom Buchanan (mentioned numerous times throughout the book), and George is so controlling of his wife that he locks her in a room (chapter 8 ). The evils that the Wilson’s engage in throughout the book connect with the evils in the valley of ashes.             However, the valley of ashes seems to contradict another symbol throughout the book. Dr. Eckleburg’s eyes seem to represent the eyes of God (159-also discussed in Jamie’s blog). It seems ironic that the “eyes” of God would be placed in a location of such decline and decay (the valley of ashes). Even though this presents a discrepancy with the valley being a place of decline and decay, there are just too many connections with decline and decay in the valley; after all, the valley was the place of murder (Myrtle getting run over by Daisy, chapter 8 ). The murder was also the result of two rich men, Tom (had an affair with Myrtle) and Gatsby (let Daisy drive). So, it seems as if the valley of ashes does in fact represent a place of decadence; a place where the rich dump their “ashes” (or troubles). -Brandon

An excellent example of symbolism in The Great Gatsby can be found in many places...
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