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.
– on the way to New York.
– shrink implies that the road wants to pull away from this area but can’t go far, it’s “creeped” by it. Desolate means bleek emphasis, not much happening, it’s 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 there.
– Farm, grow garden – all imply life. however, Fitzgerald states that ashes are growing into things you might normally find on a farm. he also says the gardens are grotesque; ugly, disgusting, repulsive.
– ashes are forming everything. they are the things that are growing and therefore fitzgerald is trying to illustrate that the feeling of being burnt out has taken over this place.
– the people live in a world where this is there everyday. above and beyond the range of a normal person’s experiences.
– worn out, tired
– you’re going to break, pressure, stress