The setting known as the Valley of Ashes is used in The Great Gatsby to illustrate the failure of the American Dream. About half way between West Egg and New York the motor road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter of a mile, so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land.” – In the Valley of Ashes the myth of the American Dream is revealed as it is a very poor area near two massively wealthy areas (East and West Eggs). This displays the falseness and illusion of the ‘American Dream’, where all are meant to have equal opportunity and the same access to being able to complete aspirations and goals. These polar opposites are reinforced by the characters such as Wilson, who work hard for little reward and who’s wife can be walked in and taken by someone such as Tom who has never had to accomplish much to get to where he currently is. The Valley of Ashes is a poor, dull area described as “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”. Fitzgerald has used words with negative connotations to show the horribleness of this hard-working place, for example grotesque shows ‘ugly, absurd and bizzare’ and ashes showing ‘dead and grief’. Compare this to the people of East Egg who have never worked hard in their lives yet lives in big houses with lots of servants running around for them. In conclusion, the Valley of Ashes represents the failure of the American Dream, where not all are given equal opportunity – the perfect example being the life of those from here in comparison to those from the ‘two Eggs’.

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  1. Hi Jono,

    You have some good moments in this paragraph. You have displayed a clear understanding of the ideas in The Great Gatsby.

    Two focuses for your writing in the future:
    – avoid circular comments (phrases that repeat information, just using slightly altered vocabulary).
    – develop your explanation of some of your quotations. How does that specific piece of evidence help to develop the idea you expressed at the beginning of your paragraph.

    Mrs. P


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