Could TJ Eckleberg's unmoving eyes symbolize that God is watching and seeing everything, instead of symbolizing that consumerism is God? I need to argue whether or not the eyes symbolize that consumerism is God. The evidence seems pretty strong to argue that the eyes do symbolize that.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The original intent of the eyes was certainly to serve as advertising for long ago oculist Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. Given their location, looking out over the valley of ashes through which people pass as quickly as possible with as little time spent taking in the scenery as possible, they may have never been truly effective in attracting customers. Certainly, in their state at the time of The Great Gatsby, "dimmed a little by many paintless days under sun and rain," their function as a symbol of consumerism is probably not as significant as is their possible symbolism of God watching the events taking place.

Perhaps the strongest symbolism to be associated with the eyes reflects the complete lack of any morality or compassion for others. The eyes are witnesses to the corruption of character, the materialism gone mad, the conspicuous consumption that dominated the lifestyle of the Buchanans and that Gatsby sought to achieve as part of his American Dream.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial