Religious Symbols in the Great Gatsby

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The Significance of Absence As the great Siddhartha Gautama once stated, “Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.” In the case of the wealthy and arrogant characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s jazz age novel The Great Gatsby, it is the absence of religion in their lives that allows them to conduct themselves in such a way that would be deemed sinful in the eyes of God. Through the novel’s narrator, Nick Carraway, the reader is able to experience the behaviors of these characters and how their immoral actions ultimately affect their lives. Nick spends the summer in Long Island visiting his cousin, Daisy Buchanan, alongside her unfaithful, violent and racist husband, Tom Buchanan. Neighboring Nick is Jay Gatsby, the long lost lover of Daisy, who befriends Nick in effort to win her back. To illustrate the characters’ immoral behavior, their actions are centered in the valley of ashes. This desolate and seedy dump is also home to the billboard for ophthalmologist T.J. Eckleburg, as well as Tom’s mistress Myrtle and her husband George Wilson. Although no direct language is used throughout the novel to indicate the importance of religious belief, Fitzgerald is able to convey how the absence of religion is what instigates the bad behavior of the rich in relation to the valley of ashes and the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg. The valley of ashes, appearing as a dump on the surface, becomes the embodiment of the corruption of the upper class during the Jazz age. This dumping ground can be considered insignificant at first, but it is a location in which two major events take place regarding the mistress of Tom Buchanan: where Tom’s affair with Myrtle is first introduced to Nick and the death of Myrtle. The root of these events is consequently Tom’s unfaithfulness to Daisy (Fitzgerald 24). Stated in the Ten Commandments,
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