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What is the symbolic and literal meaning of the green light, the valley of ashes, and...

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aub2 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 24, 2007 at 6:47 AM via web

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What is the symbolic and literal meaning of the green light, the valley of ashes, and the billboard of Dr. TJ Eckleburg?

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jamiekee | Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted March 24, 2007 at 1:34 PM (Answer #1)

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The billboard of Dr. TJ Eckleburg, put up as a doctor's ad, symbolically represents "the eyes of God," watching over all who pass and all who lead their careless lifestyles. The green light on Daisy's dock is a symbol of hope for Gatsby. It is a reminder of a dream he wants. The reader knows that the chances of Gatsby having his dream of a future with Daisy are remote. Gatsby, however, hangs on to that hope to the very end. The valley of ashes symbolically represents the waste land where Myrtle and her husband George live. George is even described as a spirtless man with "ashen dust" on him. As much as Myrtle would like to, she and George will never leave this valley of ashes. They are not the kind of people who can move up the social order of things. Sadly, George, with his ashen dust, has no idea that Myrtle wishes to leave the valley of ashes. It's the eyes of Dr. TJ Eckleburg that continues to watch over the area. Ironically, the tragedy with Myrtle happens in the "valley of ashes" with the "eyes" still watching over her.

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