“Gatsby turned out alright in the end, it was what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.” – Nick
The quote is said at the start of the book and foreshadows that something bad is due to happen, it also shows that Nick and Gatsby may develop a close relationship based on how defensive Nick sounds and he withdraws judgment of Gatsby which he doesn’t with the other characters.
Gatsby turned out alright in the end as he dies, he doesn’t have to worry about anything, he doesn’t have to be surrounded by “careless people” like Tom and Daisy.
Daisy destroyed Gatsby’s dream, she’s the reason he couldn’t fulfil it.
Gatsby dreamed of a life with Daisy and wealth, from a young age he dreamed of bigger and better things then what he had. He believed in The American Dream, but people like Daisy corrupted that dream for Gatsby. The American Dream is the idea that everyone will have the chance to be happy and successful in their lives but Gatsby was missing the acceptance of the upper class which in turn would make him ‘worthy’ to be with Daisy. When Gatsby couldn’t ‘have’ Daisy for his own, he turned to his wealth, showing off his money by throwing extravagant parties. Gatsby was desperate to get Daisy’s attention and acceptance but it never happened. Referring to Daisy as dust shows the corruption of Gatsby’s hopes and dreams and ultimately the corruption of The American Dream as it’s based on people’s acceptance.
Abortive is something that ends abruptly and sorrow is deep distress from a lost. Gatsby’s relationship with Daisy ended abruptly when Daisy couldn’t deny her love for Tom, Gatsby could no longer see a future with her. Gatsby’s death was also abrupt, he didn’t have time to dwell or grieve the lost of his love for Daisy.
“I hope she’ll be a fool — that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool . . . You see, I think everything’s terrible anyhow . . . And I know. I’ve been everywhere and seen everything and done everything.” – Daisy
This shows that Daisy is smarter than what she presents, she’s not a fool but is a product of a society full of fools. Daisy does care for her daughter and hopes her daughter is the same as other women during that time – a fool and lacks ambition. Daisy wants the best for her daughter and doesn’t want to be mistreated by men in that era, so being a fool is the best thing she can be as it’d get her far in life and she’d be supported financially.
During the 1920s (time period of The Great Gatsby), beauty and appearance in women are more important than brains and personality. It shows the drastic-ness of inequality during that time period in comparison to the slight progress we have now.
Daisy knows the life she lives isn’t perfect, she’s lonely and has no real friends. All she has is money.
Daisy seeing and doing everything shows how boring her life is. Her wealth is the only thing in her life that interest her now, it’s the only thing new. She’s done so much that she thinks everything is terrible, showing how blase the upper class lifestyle is, they have so much money they don’t know what to do with it.
“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 the powdery air.” – Nick
The quote uses emotive language to set the scene and the feeling of the Valley of Ashes, to help the reader connect with the people who live there and try and feel how they feel living there. It also uses personification, ashes don’t grow but saying that they do helps create a more vivid picture of the scene.
Ashes represent the dead dreams of those who live in the Valley of Ashes, they’ve lost hope in The American Dream and have come to turns and accepted that this is their life and there is no way out. They show the flaws and corruption of The Amercian Dream. Using ashes sets a dark, depressing tone to the scene and gives a dark emotion.
The ashes (dead dreams) are so profound that it completely shapes the landscape. They can’t escape the corruption of The American Dream as it’s all around them, there is no way out. Saying that the ashes grow like wheat, probably means that there was so much ash that it seemed to be growing. Using the word grotesque shows that the scale of the ashes was enormous and filled the valley, the valley was filled with dead hopes and dreams.
The valley wasn’t just carved out of the dying dreams of those who live there, but the people live and breath their dead dreams. There is no escaping the disaster that is The American Dream, as it is a part of who they are now. There houses being made out of ‘ashes’ shows they can’t leave, it’s their home and always will be. They have learnt to accept that this gloomy, dull lifestyle will always be theirs and they will always just be the lowest of the working class.
The use of dimly shows how grey and dull the Valley of Ashes is, it’s blurred and faded. As the men are “crumbling through the powdery air” shows that when the lost hope of The American Dream, a part of them died with it. They’ve lost hope, they know and have accepted this lifestyle and just spend their lives working. They have no substance to their lives, they just work. They breath lost hope, it is part of who they are.
“His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people — his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all. The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God . . . and he must be about His Father’s business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen year old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception, he was faithful to the end.” – Nick
Fitzgerald uses a variety of sentence lengths, there are long sentences before and after “He was a son of God”. Having this sentence as a short, simple sentence draws focus and creates impact.
This is quite the opposite of who Gatsby is and who he says his family is. This shows a major flaw in his story of his life showing the lies he’s told to get to the position he’s in. He doesn’t come from a line of success, his parents lack ambition and are unsuccessful.
From a young age, Gatsby knew he wanted more in his life, he didn’t want to follow the path that his parents have paved. He always wanted more in life. He imagined a bigger and better life but the use of imagination shows that Gatsby could only imagine, what he completely wants could never fully be part of reality.
Plato is a Greek philosopher who was concerned with the real versus ideal world. This shows that Gatsby created an ideal version of himself and tried to fulfil an ideal life, he re-invented himself as someone who is wealthy and educated. He creates his new self and new world from his own imagination but it could never be fully in the real world – it isn’t realistic. He created a better modelled version of James Gatz, who has a chance to live out The American Dream.
Gatsby turned his back on his family – on his father. Re-inventing himself left him with no family. The only person he had to look over him was ‘God’, the eyes in the Valley of Ashes are also referred to as God meaning God is constantly looking for his ‘son’, Gatsby.
His father is God.
Gatsby was so young when he created his ideal self that he wasn’t aware of the flaws or impracticality that ‘Gatsby’s’ life would have. He was so obsessed with ‘Gatsby’s’ life and idealised it immensely and in time slowly he started to change every part of who he was to become the exact same as his ideal self, Gatsby.
It wasn’t long until he was no longer recognisable. He was so focused and determined to achieve the life that ‘Gatsby’ had, that his imagination completely consumed him and changed who he was. Nothing anybody could say or do would change how he felt about Gatsby, he was faithful to his imagination and his ideal world. Even when he died he was still Gatsby.
“He stretched out his arms towards the dark water, in a curious way… involuntarily I glanced seaward and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and faraway, that might have been the end of the dock” – Nick talking about Gatsby
Gatsby knew what the light represented – hope, he knew what it would mean if he reached the light. Him stretching out his arms is him reaching out to hope, reaching out to Daisy and reaching out to the last piece of the puzzle that is his ideal life.
Nick couldn’t see anything but a light because the green light to everyone else was just a green light, it meant nothing only to warn boats where the dock is. Nick could only see the light, this means the light was the only thing Gatsby could see, it was the light at the end of the tunnel, and he could only see the possibility of their future togeather he couldn’t see the past or the implacabilities of his dream.
The light being minute and faraway shows how small and distant Gatsby’s dream was. The possibility of Gatsby’s and Daisy future is so small and distant that you could hardly see it making their future an almost impossible reality.
“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money of their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” – Nick
Nick shows his judgement of others again but calling Tom and Daisy careless shows how they act, they don’t consider other peoples feelings because they know that no matter what their money acts as a superior shield.
This shows the effect of Tom and Daisy’s actions, the use of the word ‘smashed’ is emotive and shows the drastic effect of their actions and how Gatsby felt after being rejected by Daisy.
This shows that being upper class gives you a superior power over others. They can do whatever they want and their money will protect them. It also shows that being so high up socially, money conquers all. Both Tom and Daisy have affairs but their money is what keeps them strong and togeather as they’d rather be unhappy and rich instead of happy and poor. It doesn’t matter what they do because rich ‘crimes’ don’t count.
Letting other people clean up their ‘mess’ shows how little the upper class care about those who are below them. They do whatever they please until they get bored or caught and leave anything behind being completely, oblivious to whatever issues they caused.
The American Dream’s connection to The Great Gatsby
The Valley of Ashes is a representation of the corruption and failure of The American Dream. The American Dream is only achievable if you come from a wealthy background, or make your wealth illegally but for the rest of America, The American Dream can only ever be a dream. Gatsby shows the corruption of the dream, that it’s lonely and you will never truly be accepted for your achievements. Tom and Daisy show that being wealthy and being born, already living the dream doesn’t make you happy. The Valley of Ashes shows that no matter how hard you work or how worthy you are of success, some people just can’t turn The American Dream a reality. They’ve accepted that The American Dream can only ever be a dream, they’ve lost hope causing the ashes of dead dreams to lay around them forming the valley. The American Dream is an illusion that it could only ever be a dream, that no matter how hard you work, no matter how much money you have, that no matter what it will always be a dream because everybody’s life has flaws to some degree. You always want more, and always want what you don’t have or can’t get. The American Dream is the biggest illusion in The Great Gatsby as it can only ever be just a dream.