Great Gatsby : Practice essay

“I think the American dream for most people is just to survive.”The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald is a novel is based in the 1920s through the eyes of the narrator Nick Carraway.It’s a story told over one summer in new york city, Nick Carraway is a middle-aged man who has moved to New York to pursue a career in the bonds business and be a successor of the American dream.He moves in next door to the mysterious millionaire Gatsby and across the bay from his cousin Daisy.This draws him into their exciting world getting him caught up in their lifestyles.


Through the setting of West Egg, we see the idea of corruption in the American dream.

The valley of ashes represents the failure of the American dream through the novel.The valley of ashes is located between long island and new york city, it is an industrial area where the lower class live and work in the pursuit of the American dream.The people living there are struggling, Wilson who wants a better life for himself and Myrtle works hard every day in the belief of the dream and never realise that it is just that a dream, it is as if they cannot see it because of the ash. In chapter 2 we are introduced to the valley of ashes when Nick and Tom are on their way to the city, he describes it as “This is a valley of ashes- a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens” The valley of ashes is a “grotesque garden”  The ashes are symbolising death, piles of ash represent the failed American dream through the generations. Grotesque means ugly, repulsive or distorted.Fitzgerald is using the word grotesque to paint the picture of somewhere that is repulsive and a place people want to escape.The fantastic farm is referring to the people always working hard but always giving their work towards others and the ashes from long island and new york that get dumped at the valley of ashes are building up as quick as wheat is growing blocking them from the life outside of their soot and ash covered lives.Later in the book George Wilson is mentioned who is a character that lives in the valley of ashes, he goes there to kill Gatsby because he thought Gatsby had killed his wife.Nick references the ash heaps when he says “Wilson’s glazed eyes turned out to the ash heaps, where small grey clouds took on fantastic shape and scurried here and there in the faint dawn wind.” The reference ash heaps indicate to us that this is the end and also indicating to the reader that Wilson is looking at the failure of his hard work and reality has settled in and he can now see through the grey ashy pollution that has surrounded where he has lived for so long.Fitzgerald uses the Valley of Ashes to shows the failure of the American dream of the American Dream.The fact that the people who live there will never escape the cycle of the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.It represents the social decay and the fact that there is no equality, it is about where you come from or who you know to pave your way to the top.The opportunities in the valley of ashes are low and we see the failure through the fact that the characters that live there work hard and are determined to pursue their dreams, however they will never live the dream because of social class and segregation.The American dream can also relate to the segregation that occurred to black people based on their skin colour and how it provided fewer opportunities for them and they had to live life a certain way due to the rich white people and the corruption.

West egg represents the corruption of the American dream.The people that live in West Egg have ‘new money’.Meaning they have worked their way up, but in most cases have earned their fortune illegally.Gatsby and Nick are two key characters that live in West Egg.They will never be equal, accepted or respected by those who are the upper class or born into it because they cheated the American dream.When Nick is describing west egg he says that “I lived at West Egg, the -well, the less fashionable of the two, through this is the most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them.”Even though the people who live west egg have mansions and throw the best parties they are still excluded from the upper class.It’s described as the less fashionable place of the two because these people aren’t respected how they should be considering the amount of money they have, even though these people are just as wealthy as the people who live in East Egg. The word superficial is alluding to the corruption of how the Gatsby or the people who live in West Egg have made their fortune.Superficial means something is appearing to be true or real until it is examined more closely.Gatsby appears to be a big mystery at the start of the novel, know one knows who he is or how he has earnt his fortune to throw these extravagent parties but as the novel progresses we learn that he has actually earnt his money through illegal business.Later in the story when Gatsby throws another party and Daisy and Tom attend Tom calls everyone ‘bootleggers’, he is referring to Gatsby and the people attending the party.” a lot of these newly rich people are just big bootleggers”


  1. I am keen to see where your analysis of the quote about the VOA goes.

    Be mindful of capital letters- all place names need them.


  2. Good unpacking of your evidence- I wonder, do you think Fitzgerald has also used the word sinister deliberately as well? I feel as though it adds to what you are outlining with your analysis of the word superficial. If something is both sinister and superficial, what do you think is being suggested?

    You have a very clear paragraph structure- I can see each element of SExexeY in it.


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