Great Gatsby Symbols Flashcard Example #34717

Valley of Ashes
First introduced in Chapter 2, the valley of ashes between West Egg and New York City consists of a long stretch of desolate land created by the dumping of industrial ashes. It represents the moral and social decay that results from the uninhibited pursuit of wealth, as the rich indulge themselves with regard for nothing but their own pleasure. The valley of ashes also symbolizes the plight of the poor, like George Wilson, who live among the dirty ashes and lose their vitality as a result.
East Egg
This is where the “old” rich live. Tom and Daisy Buchanan live here. The old rich are well behaved and well mannered. They enjoy customs and traditions. They are sophisticated and snobbish people.
West Egg
Where Nick has moved to for work and has gotten an apartment in Long Island, NY. The “new rich” live here, including Gatsby
Eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg
Advertisement in the Valley of Ashes; a symbol of God, looks sadly down on the wasteland that has been created by the extravagant and careless lifestyles of the wealthy.
The Green Light
Situated at the end of Daisy’s East Egg dock and barely visible from Gatsby’s West Egg lawn, the green light represents Gatsby’s hopes and dreams for the future. Gatsby associates it with Daisy, and in Chapter 1 he reaches toward it in the darkness as a guiding light to lead him to his goal. Because Gatsby’s quest for Daisy is broadly associated with the American dream, the green light also symbolizes that more generalized ideal. In Chapter 9, Nick compares the green light to how America, rising out of the ocean, must have looked to early settlers of the new nation.
Cars (motif)
Cars are typically a symbol of power, and this is closely tied into wealth. Gatsby, The Buchanan’s and even Nick have a car, whereas if you compare this to the Wilson’s’ they desperately try to make a life servicing their cars, and the only one they own in in a dilapidated state of repairs in the garage. The cars in the novel illustrate how power is misused. When Nick calls Jordan ‘a careless driver’ it has a double meaning, the literal, and the more metaphorical that she misuses her power. This is further linked into the fact Jordan tried to cheat in the golf match (misused her talent) and left the car in the rain. Gatsby had the power to take Daisy and change her life, but as soon as Daisy becomes responsible for her future she is irresponsible. Daisy cannot fully wield the power responsibley – after all she gave absolutely no consideration towards her child. There’s a lot more to be seen and parallels to be drawn as well.

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