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What aspects of setting imply it's intended to have a symbolic meaning as well as a...

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procitysam | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 17, 2012 at 11:38 PM via web

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What aspects of setting imply it's intended to have a symbolic meaning as well as a literal one?

Describe the setting of the valley of ashes where George and Myrtle live. What aspects of the setting imply it is intended to have a symbolic meaning as well as a literal one?

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slcollins | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted November 21, 2012 at 3:33 AM (Answer #1)

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In looking at the setting, symbolism can be seen in the contrasts that Fitzgerald uses. He creates East Egg and West Egg; these are geographically close but figuratively opposites. One side is old money; the other side is new money. East and West also reside on opposite sides of the continent. Fitzgerald is creating two settings here, each one symbolizing a facet of society that emerged and was prominent in the Jazz Age. Another symbolic contrast that Fitzgerald creates is with East/West Egg and the Valley of Ashes. In this instance, the Eggs both symbolize wealth and carelessness and corruption. This is shown through the characters of Jay Gatsby, Daisy and Tom Buchanan, and Jordan Baker. In contrast, the Valley of Ashes symbolizes poverty and destitution, the working class of society. This is shown through the character of George Wilson. Fitzgerald also reinforces these latter two symbols through his use of color; East and West Eggs are shown through lively colors and festive occasions, while the Valley of Ashes is shown through the color grey and downtrodden workers. 

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