Who is T. J. Eckleburg in The Great Gatsby?

In The Great Gatsby, Doctor T. J. Eckleburg is an "oculist," an eye doctor who, at some point in the past, paid for a large billboard to advertise his medical practice in the valley of ashes. It seems to represent the failure and the fiction of the American Dream, as it has been left to fall into disrepair, indicating, perhaps, that the practice failed as well.

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Between West Egg and New York City lies a depressing place locals refer to as the valley of ashes. Nick Carraway, the narrator, describes it as a place where ashes seem to grow up from the ground like crops and where all the houses and cars and even people are covered in ash, making it seem as though the whole place is made of the stuff. Even the air is powdery, and everything seems always gray and "ghastly" as a result. In the midst sits an old billboard, an advertisement for an eye doctor called Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. The advertisement consists of a huge pair of blue eyes —there is no face or even nose—and a great pair of yellow eyeglasses. The sign seems to have been placed there in order to advertise the practice, located in Queens, and entice either people in the valley or those riding the train through it on their way to and from the city to visit the doctor for their eye-health needs. However, the advertisement is evidently very old, as Nick describes the eyes as looking rather "dimmed," the paint fading and wearing away from the weather. Later in the story, we learn that George Wilson has been associating those eyes with God, which is pretty ironic given what the eyes really are: a device to make money. Money does seem to be "God" in the world depicted by the book.

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