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Societal Waste In The Great Gatsby

565 words - 2 pages

Insert Societal Waste Here In the book The Great Gatsby, the symbol of the Valley of Ashes is very significant to one of its underlying themes. The valley of ashes is metaphorically representative of societal issues in the 1920s. The ash heap is shown as a symbol of destruction that spreads to destroy dreams and aspirations of the hopeful. Fitzgerald employs ties in the symbol of Dr. T.J.Eckleburg's billboard to the valley of ashes, to show the wastefulness of American society.The Valley of Ashes represents the modern world. It's really a crude hell created by our modern society. This ash heap is really a garbage dump located just outside of New York City. Occasionally, "ash-grey men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an impenetrable cloud which screens their obscure operation from your sight" (Pg. 17). They remove the trash of NYC and bring it to the ash heap to burn until it finally turns to ashes. The men shoveling the trash off the train is like digging up dirt for a grave to bury someone. The ashes are what is left over after the trash's been burnt; it's the residue left over after destruction. The ash heap reminds us of death and decay. It is described as "the grey land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over" (Pg. 27). The burning of the garbage is akin to ignition of the human essence, passions, desires, dreams, all aflame in a final blast of glory, until all that's left over is a thin layer of ashes, functional deadness of the soul.Jay Gatsby dreams the great American dream of being wealthy, and his hope of someday being with...

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