The Valley Of AshesHello, At the start of chapter 2 the author contrasts the setting  with the first chapter. Through this contrast, what is Fitzgerald suggesting about the society he...

The Valley Of Ashes

Hello, At the start of chapter 2 the author contrasts the setting  with the first chapter. Through this contrast, what is Fitzgerald suggesting about the society he describes?

 

Thanks

 

Asked on by joebobby

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In the area half way between West Egg and New York, lies the Valley of Ashes, a desolate area of land where "ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens."  Even the men who work there are ash-grey.  "Bleak dust" drifts endlessly, fouling the river.  It is a waste land, a dumping ground of the rich. An old billboard displays eyes that loook out of no face, but from a pair of huge yellow [color of evil] glasses with no nose.

In contrast to the area where the waste of industry is taken, an area symbolic of the urban corruption, East Egg has freshly manicured lawns, white curtains blowing in the clean breeze, houses with hallways of "rosy-colored space," French windows "glowing,,,with reflected gold and wide-open to the warm, windy afternoon."

In the evening a man at West Egg, under the "silver pepper of the stars," watches a green light at the end of the dock as he has come out "to determine what share was his of our local heavens."

These two chapters point to the discrepancy between appearances and reality.  The wealthy reside in illusion; their homes are rosy, white and reflective of gold.  But, just down the "motor-road," lies the ashes of their corruptive wealth and excesses.  And, while their excesses and sins may be hidden from both East Egg and West Egg, the omniscient eyes of Doctor T. J. Ecleburg, blue and gigantic, looking out from yellow spectacles --connotative of corruption and evil--"brood on over the solemn dumping ground," and wonder about the excesses and sins of the wealthy.

 

 

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