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...