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Gatsby Commentary

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Introduction

Jenny Keroack 10-6-10 Kober Pd. 8 Revised Commentary F. Scott Fitzgerald illustrates what he saw as a dichotomy between the decadent rich and deprived poor in this description of the valley of ashes. The theme of polarity is evident in this passage. Fitzgerald's juxtaposition of the wealthy and the needy demonstrates the apathy of the former and the ignorance of the latter. Fitzgerald uses simile to give the ashes life. He describes them as "growing like wheat." (l. 3-4) Wheat is the cornerstone of civilization, a food product that humans have depended upon for centuries. By comparing the ashes to wheat, Fitzgerald emphasizes the ashes' importance. Literally, the ash is present due to industrial waste. ...read more.

Middle

The ashes that make the valley so dark and dismal come to it through "obscure operations." (l .9) Once again, Fitzgerald uses alliteration to illustrate the underhandedness of the rich. His repetition of sarcastic alliteration re-enforces the idea that the affluent arrogantly disregard the suffering of the impoverished as unimportant. Fitzgerald emphasizes the injustice of the aristocracy by invoking God. The blue eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg gaze through "a pair of enormous yellow spectacles" (l. 13) onto the valley of ashes. Although he never states it explicitly, Fitzgerald alludes to the divinity of the eyes. The imagery itself represents the heavens. The blue eyes and yellow glass are reminiscent of the sky on a clear day. ...read more.

Conclusion

Given the disdainful and sarcastic tone Fitzgerald uses in the previous paragraph to describe the rich, the reader can deduce that he sees the oculist as another apathetic wealthy man. Fitzgerald's use of diction also gives the reader the impression that the doctor was a greedy man. The word "fatten" has the connotation that, while the man already had enough business, he wanted even more so he could become richer and more decadent. This both disproves and supports the notion that the billboard is a metaphor for God. While God is obviously not an oculist, it is possible that the doctor represents both consumerism and divinity at once. The eyes symbolize the glorification of materialism. Fitzgerald characterizes the rich as apathetic and selfish. His juxtaposes the extreme waste of the rich with the extreme poverty of the underprivileged. In this passage, he illustrates the exploitation of the poor by the wealthy. ...read more.

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