Fitzgerald begins the chapter with a vivid yet hellish image of the valley of ashes, contrasting vastly with Tom’s opulent party explored in chapter 1. He describes the setting as ‘desolate’ suggesting a lack of life and culture in the area, with connotations of alone and abandoned. He has Nick’s description lack colour through the ‘ash-grey men’, ‘grey cars’ and ‘rising smoke’; for Nick to describe men as ‘grey’ highlights his detached view that is far distant from real life, using his judgemental attitude to de-humanize the men and cloud our views of them as readers. Guiding us to suggest the people are less than ordinary and of lower status in comparison to himself and the people he surrounds himself with, like Gatsby for example. I think Fitzgerald does this to show that Gatsby’s life is rich in luxuries and wealth, and completely opposite to those living in the valley of ashes like The Wilson’s.
Further into the chapter Fitzgerald has Nick describe Myrtle buying purposeless things- ‘she bought a copy of Town Tattle and a moving picture magazine, and in the station drugstore some cold cream and a small flask of perfume’, these objects of little value highlight the need for the materialistic image promoted in America in the 1920’s and the pressured consumerism adding to the disillusioned culture at the time. Following this short extract Myrtle states ‘I want to get one of those dogs’, to which Tom responds in a ‘throw away’ sense, attempting to mark his masculine authority in the relationship- ‘It’s a bitch, said Tom decisively. Here’s your money. Go and buy ten more dogs