‘The Great Gatsby’, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and published in 1925 demonstrates Fitzgerald’s mixed opinions of the 1920’s, otherwise known as the ‘Golden 20’s’, the realisation of the ‘American Dream’. Fitzgerald uses a number of techniques to tell the story in chapter 2. Chapter 2 opens with a detailed and very graphic description of ‘The Valley of Ashes’ delivered by Nick Carraway, an extremely poor and ash ridden area between West Egg and New York City,
‘…where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens’.
The image really depicts the two worlds, as this is a place of industry and is the polar opposite of West Egg with all its’ newly rich residents.
With a great use of colour and vividness being used throughout chapter 1, this comes to a sudden halt in the introduction to chapter 2 as everything is described as having no colour, being grey, ‘ash-grey men’ and ‘grey land’ being examples of this. This really represents the poverty of ‘The Valley of Ashes’, which was the negative result to the economic boom. It also contrasts with Tom Buchanan’s apartment in which he shares with his lover Myrtle Wilson.
The persistent reminder of impoverishment hangs over the people who live there are the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg, plastered on a billboard that looks out of place in a world of people who would not be able to afford his service,
‘Doctor Eckleburg’s persistent stare.’
The overwhelming sense of consumerism and advertising is reinstated, manifesting the materialisation that was the 1920’s and the constant wish to realise the ‘American Dream’. Later on in the novel a man named George B. Wilson recognises the billboard to be ‘the eyes of God’; this could establish the thought of the capitalism removing all existence of a theological God and moral standards.
Tom Buchanan takes Nick to visit George in chapter 2, this is when you are introduced to his wife Myrtle Wilson