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What is the significance of the color green and the Valley of Ashes

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chrischris1 | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted February 5, 2012 at 6:21 AM via web

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What is the significance of the color green and the Valley of Ashes

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tresvivace | College Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted February 5, 2012 at 11:50 AM (Answer #1)

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Hipstaa is definitely right about the green light.  Located at the end of Daisy’s dock in East Egg, it represents Gatsby’s hopes and aspirations.  But green is also the color of spring and new birth; thus, it is associated with Gatsby’s hope for a new beginning with Daisy.  Like a green light in traffic or a guiding light, it tells him to “go” for his dream—not only his dream for Daisy, but in more general terms the American Dream of wealth and success.  It is also the color of money (gold, also associated with money, is also symbolic in this novel), and it is his great wealth that leads the once-poor Gatsby to believe he has a chance to start anew with Daisy.  Thus, the symbolism of the color green takes on many nuances.

The Valley of Ashes, literally a long, dreary stretch of land between New York City and Long Island where industrial ashes from incinerators are dumped, does represent desolation and darkness. It is also important to note that it symbolizes the moral decay underlying so much of the behavior depicted in this novel. The section on the theme of "moral corruption" in the e-notes guide cited below expands on this topic, clearly associated with the Valley of Ashes.  The associations are manifold, including the ashes of Ash Wednesday, reminding us of the Biblical exhortation that we are from dust and will return to dust.



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hipstaa | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted February 5, 2012 at 9:38 AM (Answer #2)

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Great Gatsby?   :)

The green light is one of the most important symbols in The Great Gatsby. Green is the color of hope and it first appears when Gatsby stares across the bay towards a green light at the end of a dock. Later the reader finds out that this light stands on Daisy Buchanan’s dock. In the context of the novel this green light represents Gatsby’s hope to meet Daisy again and a chance to win her back. “Gatsby believed in the green light”.

The Valley of Ashes resembles something dark and lifeless. As a result of fire ashes stand for destruction and death. Furthermore the death of Myrtle Wilson in the Valley of Ashes stands for the pain associated with this valley. Also the fact that the Wilsons live in the valley shows that they are not of such high social standards as the other characters in the novel. By having to pass through the Valley of Ashes in order to get to New York, the other characters have to betake themselves to this lower status.

The two sharply contrast one another because they are essentially opposites.  i.e., hope vs desertion.

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