The Great Gatsby - a Close Reading on the Valley of Ashes Essay

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The given passage in the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald talks about the “Valley of ashes”, which is a place between Westegg and New York City. The passage starts at the beginning of the second chapter of the book on page 23, and provides a detailed description of the valley of ashes. In contrast to the west and east egg’s rich society, the valley of ashes is where the poor live, and where the rich dump their ash. The passage seems to be told by the main character Nick, who is the narrator of a big part of the novel. He tells his detailed observation of the valley. The description of the valley reveals the hopelessness, both of the valley’s condition, and the people within it. People call the place “the valley of ashes.” This name is quite ironic, since fertile land, not ash, is usually associated with a valley. In general the description of the valley is negative. Fitzgerald calls this place a “certain desolate area of land,” and describes it as a grim place in which even “the motor road [hurriedly] joins the rail road, so as to shrink away” from it. This grim and dull description of the valley shows that there is neither happiness nor hope around. After establishing the negativity of the valley, Fitzgerald continues to develop the irony in this passage of the novel. When he says “a farm where ashes grow like wheat into ¬¬¬[…] grotesque gardens” he uses the same irony he already used in naming the place the “valley of ashes.” Farms, gardens, and wheat are associated with fertility and not with a desolate landscape where nothing is able to grow. Moreover, Fitzgerald uses other rhetorical devices to aid him in showing the terrible condition of the valley. For example, he uses an anaphora “where ashes grow […] where ashes take the forms” to emphasize the desolate picture of the valley. Furthermore, he uses a personification when he says “men who dimly

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