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Why is Wilson covered with dust from the ashes in Chapter 2 of The Great Gatsby?

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picklepee42 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 6, 2010 at 9:26 PM via web

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Why is Wilson covered with dust from the ashes in Chapter 2 of The Great Gatsby?

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ajacks | College Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted January 6, 2010 at 11:15 PM (Answer #1)

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George Wilson worked at a garage on the outskirts of the “Valley of Ashes,” so one could make the obvious connection that he was covered in ashes because he worked there. However, the symbolism and the irony of the ashes covering Wilson go beyond that.

The “Valley of Ashes” represents the wasteland that Fitzgerald sees between the wealth of people like the Buchanans, and the disparity and poverty of people like Wilson. It is a bitter irony that Wilson asks Tom Buchanon to sell him a car that Tom owns, so Wilson can try and make more money for his wife, who is having an affair with Tom.

Wilson wears his “ashes” as a constant reminder of what he represents, and in fact is symbolically “buried” in this “Valley of Ashes.”

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