The Great Gatsby – Chapter 2 (The Valley of Ashes – Annotation)

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. 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. Occasionally a line of gray cars crawls along an invisible track, gives out a ghastly creak, and comes to rest, and immediately the ash−gray men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an impenetrable cloud, which screens their obscure operations from your sight.

But above the gray land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg.

  • In between West Egg and New York.. two wealthy areas
  • Shrink implies that the road wants to pull away from this area but cant go far. It’s “creeped” by it. 
  • Desolate means “bleak emptiness”. Not much happening. Unpleasant. The area doesn’t produce or grow.
  • Valley= Hole like
  • Ashes= Burnt out/dying
  • NY and other surrounding areas dump their ashes from their fires
  • “Farm” and “Grow” imply life, however what is really growing here are mounds of ashes. 
  • He also says the “gardens” are grotesque= Ugly, regarding, repulsive
  • Ashes are forming and overruling EVERYTHING.
  • They are the only things growing. Fitzgerald is trying to illustrate that the feeling of being “burnt out” is taking over this area.
  • Transcendent- Beyond or above the physical range of normal human experience. Something that humans can’t normally do. The people that live in the valley put so much time into the work they do every single day it could possibly be “unreal”
  • Poor, sad, worn out, tired, breaking down men.
  • These words emphasise the odd, and paranormal of the area. Also the creepiness. 
  • The whole idea behind the description this area shows that the “American dream” its just that.. a dream. And that the people who live here work extremely extremely hard just to fend for themselves basically.


One Reply to “The Great Gatsby – Chapter 2 (The Valley of Ashes – Annotation)”

  1. Hey Keria,

    It’s so nice to see you beginning to use your blog! You have the colour coding down pat and I think it’s a really effective way to visually break a quote down.

    Make sure that when you are taking notes about the quotes and passages we discuss in class, you add some of your own thoughts into your writing.

    Please make sure you are posting your other work so I can comment and feedback to you on that too.

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