What are important symbols specifically within the setting of chapter 7?

Expert Answers
missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The eyes of Dr. J.L. Eckleburg serve as a symbol of God's eyes watching over man. The location of this billboard is very important as these eyes have the opportunity to cast their view over so much of the "sin" that happens in this book. Most specifically, in chapter 7, three revelations are made:

  1. the reality of the inappropriate relationships (Tom/Myrtle, Daisy/Gatsby)
  2. the accidental murder (Daisy killing Myrtle with a car)
  3. and Gatsby's absolute dismissal of the value of human life (he's more obsessed with Daisy than he is aware that she committed a murder).

(Interestingly, a comment is made early in the chapter that references this dismissal Gatsby contains:

Human sympathy has its limits, and we were content to let all their tragic arguments fade with the city lights behind.

This sentiment foreshadows Gatsby's attitude.)

God saw all of them, and He saw them while they occured and others did not know all the details. Each of these items (except #3) were lied about under other circumstances, but God sees all truth even when man tries to lie.

The Valley of Ashes is the channel through which all travel takes place and the chapter's most notable event occurs. First, ashes symbolize death and destruction. In this place, Tom's marriage took a turn toward death as he began his affair with Myrtle however many months or years before the chapter occurs. Also, his love affair is killed in this chapter with the death of Myrtle. 

The references to heaton that day could be considered symbolic of hell as man must pay for his sin. Or, it may symbolize the growing tension throughout the chapter. The chapter moves from Tom's discomfort, to an heated discussion between Gatsby and Tom, to an accidental murder which occured based on carelessness and flippant behavior. Scan the chapter for references to heat and note WHO most struggles with the heat. 

The carsrepresent the carelessness of the people. Throughout the chapter, the people drive them fast through the Valley of ashes metaphorically leaving a wake of destruction behind them. Daisy was going so fast it was hard to know the color of the car she drove.

Further Reading:

Unlock This Answer Now

Read the study guide:
The Great Gatsby

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question