The Great Gatsby

One particular striking representation in The Great Gatsby that a technocritic can definitely focus on is the depiction of the valley of ashes in Chapter 2. The description of the valley embodies the very nature of industrialism and is symbolic of the socioeconomic gap between West Egg and the rest of New York . In the beginning of the chapter, Fitzgerald notes,

“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. ”

The valley is clearly a product of industrialization that has begun to take place during Nick’s time. The rise of technological advancements has given birth to a new and more lavish standard of living, yet it has come with a cost. The ashes seem to represent the blood and sweat of lower-class or middle class workers, whose labor has allowed the wealthy to become even wealthier. Furthermore, the valley draws a huge distinct line between the relatively well-off town of West Egg and New York City. Evidently, those who reside in West Egg are isolated from the realities of industrialization (which can be found in the city itself). One can even go so far as to say that those who live in West Egg are sheltered and rather ignorant of the society around them. They are simply products of their technology: None of them has actually taken part in giving rise to the industrial movement of their time. The most ignorant character of them all is Tom Buchanan – an incredibly arrogant racist who constantly feels the need to flaunt his social status to others. As a product of a rather affluent society, Tom believes he is especially entitled to a degree of power (which is rather tyrannical in nature). Ironically, the reader learns that Tom must always pass through the valley of ashes in order to see his lover Myrtle, who lives on the other side of the valley. The symbolism here is noteworthy. Myrtle represents the lower-class and, like the workers whose blood and sweat are represented through the valley of ashes, is abused by someone of higher class (Tom).

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One Response to “The Great Gatsby”

  1.    Eye Health Food Nutrition Says:

    Eye Health Food Nutrition

    Literature and Technology » Blog Archive » The Great Gatsby

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