The Valley of Ashes

 

“About half way between West Egg and New York the motor-road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter of a mile so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land.  This is a 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 powdery air.”

-The Great Gatsby (26)

F. Scott Fitzgerald  

The valley of ashes represents the despair and decay of the times.  The characters from East Egg and West Egg become entangled with the residents from the valley, causing their own decay at the end of the novel.  It represents the hard times of the day and that no one can hide from them behind their own money. 

 

 

Every town has their own valley of ashes, a place of hopeless despair.  Check out some present day slum communities:

http://www.urbanology.org/ghettospaces/housing.html

http://www.macalester.edu/courses/geog61/espencer/slums.html

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