Two symbols that Fitzgerald uses to represent the American Dream are the colors green and yellow/gold. Both symbolize different aspects of the American Dream that Fitzgerald ties to Gatsby. Green symbolizes the desire of the earliest European settlers to start anew and rebuild Eden, leaving the mess of the past behind. In the green light at the end of the dock that Gatsby stares at and longs for, green also represents his dream of starting anew with Daisy, and leaving the past five years behind.
The color yellow symbolizes the materialism and love of money that is part the American Dream. This color, and money itself, are associated with both Gatsby and Daisy.
The novel critiques both these dreams as unsound in different ways. You could argue that it says the dream of reclaiming a perfect past is impossible and that money is destructive. To do this, go through the novel and find instances of how Fitzgerald uses these colors to illustrate his ideas about the American Dream. Is it significant, for example, that the car that kills Myrtle, Gatsby's car, is yellow? What does it mean that Nick ties together the color green in the "green breast" of the new continent and the green light at the end of the dock in the following passage:
. . . gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors' eyes a fresh, green breast of the new world.
Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby's house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy's dock.
A thesis—and you would want to finesse and narrow this to suit your purposes and ideas—might say, "F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the colors green and yellow as symbols of two aspects the American Dream: green as the dream of recreating Eden and yellow as the dream of wealth, then critiques both parts of the dream."
The Valley of Ashes as Metaphor in The Great Gatsby Essay
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The Valley of Ashes as Metaphor in The Great Gatsby
Throughout F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, location is a critical motif. The contrasts between East and West, East Egg and West Egg, and the two Eggs and New York serve important thematic roles and provide the backdrops for the main conflict. Yet, there needs to be a middle ground between each of these sites, a buffer zone, as it were; there is the great distance that separates East from West; there is the bay that separates East Egg from West Egg; and, there is the Valley of Ashes that separates Long Island from New York. The last of these is probably the most striking. Yet, the traditional literal interpretation does not serve Fitzgerald's theme as well as a more…show more content…
If it is remembered that ashes circa the turn of the century often referred to garbage, then it is possible to interpret the "valley of ashes" as a "dumping ground." (23) The ash heaps, then, are piles of garbage, and the repeated references to "waste land," as opposed to "wasteland," now make more sense, as does George Wilson's use of "a piece of waste" to wipe his hands. (24-5) For Fitzgerald, the American dream is to get rich and become socially acceptable; Wilson, who has failed, has "wasted" his life, and is now "down in the dumps." He has been cast away by society, just like the rest of the refuse that surrounds him. This, then, seems to be the fate of middle-class dreams--despite being conceived in a land filled with opportunity, they all end up in the landfill.
Yet, there are still inconsistencies with this interpretation, which also apply to the stricter literal view; where does the "gray, scrawny Italian child" down the road by the railroad tracks come from? (26) Where do the workmen come from? (137) If the valley is so isolated and desolate how could Nick even imagine there would be an old man regaling little boys with the story of Myrtle's death? (156) How does such a crowd accumulate next to a dumping ground? (156-7) Why would Dr. T. J. Eckleburg advertise there, train delays notwithstanding? (23) These concerns cannot be fully explained away by the