Doc Hailes English
Symbol, Symbols, and More Symbols
While in my first reading of the Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, I failed to grasp the true understanding of all the symbols throughout the book. I thought that the green light, the valley of ashes, and T.J Eckleburg’s eyes were just coincidence or landmarks passed by regularly.
However, in my second reading those three symbols help us as readers to understand the book on a deeper level; the green light stands for hope, valley of ashes symbolizes the moral and social decay, and T.J Eckleburg’s eyes reveals the lack of moral values in the valley.
The green light lies on the end of Daisy Buchanan’s dock, directly across the bay from
Gatsby’s home. The light stands for hope, Gatsby’s dream to one day be with Daisy again.
“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter -- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther...and then one fine morning--So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”(180,182).
Gatsby genuinely believed that he could fix the past, and gain Daisy’s love again with money and a fabulous life. Nick Carraway on his way home from Tom and Daisy’s home sees Gatsby, standing outside of his house, starring out toward the direction of Daisy’s dock.
“He stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward - and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far way, that might have been the end of the dock”(21,21-22). Nick in chapter nine reflects on Gatsby’s dream, “I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and
his dream must have seemed so close that he could barely fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscrurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night” (180,182). The author uses the green light as something Gatsby can see and “dream” about, but in reality cannot have because of the past.
Between West Egg and New York City, an unilluminated, gloomy, and desolate area called valley of ashes symbolizes the moral and social decay.
“This is the valley of ashes - a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air...the ash-grey men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an impenetrable cloud” (23,23).
West Egg is where Gatsby and Daisy are having their affair. George Wilson’s gas station is where we find out about Tom and Myrtle’s affair. New York City is where Tom and Myrtle have their apartment. The valley of ashes is also where Myrtle is killed by Daisy with Gatsby’s yellow car.
Fitzgerald really uses the valley of ashes to connect all of these instances together to demenostrate the decline of morals and society throughout the book.
Lastly, T.J Eckleburg’s eyes