What is the "Valley of Ashes" and what are the "eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg"?  i would like to know specifically and not what it symbolizes

Expert Answers
slcollins eNotes educator| Certified Educator


The Valley of Ashes is a barren wasteland that lies between East and West Eggs and the city. It is grey and desolate, filled with the working class like George and Myrtle Wilson. In the novel, it serves a symbol of the poverty and working class that are so near to the rich and elite class. Fitzgerald places the Valley of Ashes so that any of the rich characters, Tom and Daisy or Gatsby, must travel through this desolation in order to get into the city; hence making this symbol even more poignant – poverty is very near and hard to ignore. The grey and ashy appearance of the Valley of Ashes serves as a direct contrast to the colorful glamour of the nearby Eggs. The eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleberg are present on a billboard in the Valley of Ashes. This billboard is old and faded, so much so that all that remains is the eyes from an advertisement. They symbolize a moral force looking down on the characters – a god-like force, if you will. This symbol is placed, of course, where the working class is, not the elite class. Perhaps Fitzgerald’s comment on the lack of morality among the upper class characters of Tom, Daisy, Jordan and Jay Gatsby.

Read the study guide:
The Great Gatsby

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question