Books and Movies Reviews

The Great Gatsby and The Valley of Ashes

Halfway between West Egg and New York lies ‘The Valley of Ashes’ and this is the desolate wasteland, which is also home to the Wilson family. The term desolate is used to describe a place that is depressingly empty and solitary. Fitzgerald includes this fantastic farm to emphasize to the readers, the sharp contrast between luxury and health with poverty and struggle. The valley serves to represent the damage that the upper class characters such as Daisy and Tom can inflict on society.
Through the Wilson family, we get the impression that this is a place where the victims of the American Dream reside and is home to those who have very little to look forward to and have very little going on in their lives. Unlike New York, this barren site lacks extravagance and the repetition of the color ‘grey’ which like black, can be used to signify a lack of life. The use of grey and black also show loss and depression and serves to remind us of the emptiness Fitzgerald is trying to portray – even the men who work there are ‘ash-grey’. 
The Valley is a product of capitalism as it is created by industrial waste and can be seen as the dumping ground for the likes of wealthy men and women. The wealthy reside in false pretense where their homes are reflective of gold but down the ‘motor-road’ we can find the valley of their corruptible wealth. It is the complete opposite of life in the West Egg and in New York. Transferred epithet as well as personification is used when describing the movement of the cars. It is said that even the cars ‘crawl’ and once again, this stresses to the readers the emptiness in the valley. Up until this juncture, Fitzgerald uses cars as a symbol of power and along with power tends to come wealth. For all the wealthy characters in the novel such as Gatsby and the Buchanan, a car comes along with the lavish lifestyles they lead, but if you compare this to the Wilson’s, they fix cars just in order to make a living. It’s a…

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