The Valley of Ashes, throughout the novel ‘The Great Gatsby’, is a location that represents the myth of the American Dream. The population of this small town located between Manhattan and West Egg, has been lied to. They have been robbed of the promise of the American Dream. “The American Dream is that dream of a land where life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”  James Truslow Adams explains the promises that everyone in America has been given, but haven’t received. Everyone in this town has worked diligently toward the ideal promise of success and happiness shared equally between everyone, but they have never been rewarded. Instead the inhabitants of this town have been lied to as they constantly strive for the unattainable dream.  In false faith they can not grasp what has been untruthfully guaranteed.

Upon entering the Valley of ashes, Nick describes the town as “…a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens…”  In contrast to a regular luscious green farm, the valley of ashes is a “Fantastic” farm.  Fantastic meaning remote from reality, unreal. Where instead of wheat,  dusty ashes grow amongst the fields.  “…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 town is full of grime, it’s land and it’s position in society is overshadowed by its own poverty. This industrial town is the epitome of depression, its ashen covered land leads to its appearance of being grey and the soot released from their factories smother any sign of life.

The Valley of ashes is an accurate representation of the false morals of the American Dream. It’s an example of the unfortunate situation of the poor. For example Wilson. Wilson day after day attempted working his way out of the slums, but the intensity of the ashes drowned the vitality out of him and all those who live in the valley. They are unable to work themselves out of this situation as society and all its rotten glory prevents anyone from ever overcoming the ashen, poverty filled town.

Wilson attempted leaving the town with Myrtle, he had plans, but his attempts were prevented by unfortunate circumstance. His wife was murdered, which lead to his death… his suicide. Dare I say this happened purposefully. Fitzgerald further trying to portray how you can not escape the status allocated by society, you can not escape the valley of ashes and the fact that The American Dream is an unforgivable lie. 

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  1. Hey Billea,

    You are communicating your ideas with clarity and it is obvious you have a strong grasp on what Fitzgerald is expressing in the novel.

    I want to encourage you to look critically at this paragraph, like we did with your PE assignment. You are misusing vocabulary in places.

    I also want you to “cut loose” a little bit with some of your expressions. When you are exploring a quotation, you do not need to say “In this quote…” or make reference to the fact your exploring a quote. Look to weave it into the fabric of your writing (I am talking specifically of the quote you have used from James Truslow Adam’s…you can be more creative than this!)

    Mrs P


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