What Does The Valley Of Ashes Symbolize

What does the Valley of Ashes symbolize?

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The Valley of Ashes functions as a foil to the luxury of East and West Egg, and as a result, the ash can be understood as the conditions of everyday life.


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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The Valley of Ashes is where ordinary working people like George and Myrtle Wilson live. The Wilsons and the other denizens of the Valley are representative of the vast majority of Americans at that time. For all the opulence, glamor, and phenomenal wealth on display in The Great Gatsby, we should always bear in mind that only a tiny minority were able to enjoy such a privileged lifestyle. The Valley of Ashes provides a stark contrast to the charmed life of the East and West Eggers, acting as a reminder that the American Dream will always, of its very nature, remain unattainable to most people....

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udonbutterfly | Student

In my opinion the Valley of Ashes represented where dreams when to die. Especially since it lies between East Egg and West Egg it almost as if this desolate land is just an emotional dump full of people who gave up on life because they failed to achieve higher. These are the people that make people from the East Egg and West Egg rich.

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gio41 | Student

First introduced in Chapter 2, the valley of ashes between West Egg and New York City consists of a long stretch of desolate land created by the dumping of industrial ashes. It represents the moral and social decay that results from the uninhibited pursuit of wealth, as the rich indulge themselves with regard for nothing but their own pleasure. The valley of ashes also symbolizes the plight of the poor, like George Wilson, who live among the dirty ashes and lose their vitality as a result.

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