The Great Gatsby
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald
Contributed by Karim Chandra
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Symbols are objects or figures that artists use to represent an idea.
Valley of Ashes
The valley of ashes is a symbol of the social status of residents just like many locations in The Great Gatsby. In this case, the symbol found in the valley of ashes extends even further. The valley is a symbol of waste which is left behind in search of riches as it is covered by ashes from the factories which are located in the neighboring New York City. The Wilsons who lives in the valley of ashes suffers death and injury as a result of the Buchanans’ elitist unethical activities. People of the lower class who occupy this area desire to leave the place but cannot. This shows how the American Dream is challenging to achieve for instance Myrtle meets her death as she tries to flee from the valley of ashes. The people living in the valley of ashes and the environment goes through a lot of suffering. The ashes represent death with arrogant and egocentric people coming from it.
Green Light
The green light which is seen at the end of Daisy’s dock is symbolic. It serves to alert boaters in case there is a barrier that needs to be avoided. According to Gatsby, the light stands for his dream of getting Daisy that he needs to attain so that he can complete his American dream. In broader terms, the green light can also symbolize the American dream. The story starts when Gatsby is stretching his open arms towards the light and ends as Nick notices the dream is a difficult one to achieve although many in the society desire it.
The Eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg
The neglected billboard aims at promoting Dr. T.J. Eckleburg’s optical services represents the immoral activities of the 1920s. Many Americans neglected their religious morality in exchange for personal pleasures as a result of wild parties and capitalistic gains times. The billboard reminds the people God is watching whatever they are doing. The eyes billboard symbolizes the loss of spiritual values by the Americans. The eyes also portray emptiness in the American dream, the dream has made wealth to few people, but many have no hopes of it. The truth is that not everyone can be as rich as the Buchanan’s. The faded and forgotten billboard just like the American spiritual values suggests that the characters no longer consider the repercussion of their immoral act except for George Wilson. Although George Wilson believes God's eyes were watching people’s actions from the billboards, he commits a sinful act by killing Jay Gatsby.
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