What techniques does Fitzgerald use to convey bleakness in the setting of chapter 2?F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Fitzgerald's marvelous use of color imagery finds itself turned to monotones in Chapter Two of The Great Gatsby as the description of the Valley of Ashes is in sharp contrast to the verdant lawns and white curtains and gold of an afternoon reflected in French windows that diminish to the green light at the end of Daisy's pier. Instead, the area is ashen; railroad cars that bring the industrial waste from New York are described as a line of "grey cars" that crawl along and then give "a ghastly creak."

The Valley of ashes is desolate, a "fantastic farm" where, metaphorically, only ashes grow, taking the forms of houses and chimeys and "grotesque gardens." Even the inhabitants of this area are covered with dust and their spirits spent.  George Wilson, who has a "shadow of a garage" in this desolate area is described as a "spiritless man, anaemic and faintly handsome" with a "white ashen dust veiled his dark suit."

At the party in the New York apartment, Fitzgerald describes the people as shadowy and seen through a blur of smoke:

The  little dog was sitting on the table looking with blind eyes through the smoke and from time to time groaning faintly.  People disappeared, reappeared, made plans to go somewhere, and then lost each other, searched for eath other, found each other a few feet away.

Throughout Chapter Two, there is the imagery of greyness and the blind staring of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg with decadent yellow spectacles that pass over "a nonexistent nose"; also, there is the metaphoric artificiality of the Fifth Avenue apartment in New York with its gossip magazines upon the coffee table and Mrs. Wilson's feigned hauteur and laughter ringing through the room. Certainly, Fitzgerald's magery and metaphor in this chapter convey a sense of bleakness and decadence.

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The Great Gatsby

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