F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is a classic American novel that tells the story of Jay Gatsby, a wealthy man who is obsessed with winning over the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan. The novel is set in the 1920s, in the fictional town of West Egg on Long Island.
One of the most important and symbolic elements in The Great Gatsby is dust. Dust is used repeatedly throughout the novel to symbolize the emptiness and shallowness of the characters’ lives. The first mention of dust comes when Nick Carraway, the narrator, describes the “valley of ashes” between West Egg and New York City. The valley is a bleak and depressing place, full of garbage and ashes. The people who live there are poor and have no hope of ever escaping their miserable lives.
The next time dust is mentioned is when Gatsby’s party guests are leaving his house at the end of a night of drinking and dancing. As they walk through the front door, they kick up a cloud of dust that settles on Gatsby’s beautiful clothes and hands. This scene is symbolic of how Gatsby’s life is nothing but a facade. The people who come to his parties are not really his friends, and he only throws them to try and impress Daisy.
Later in the novel, Nick goes to visit Gatsby at his mansion. He is surprised to find that Gatsby has hired a man to stand in his driveway and brush the dust off of his car every day. This is symbolic of how Gatsby is desperately trying to hold on to his wealth and status, but it is all just an illusion. The dust will eventually settle on him and his life will come crashing down.
Dust is used one last time in the novel when Daisy accidentally hits and kills a woman with Gatsby’s car. The woman’s husband, Wilson, finds her body lying in a pool of blood and dust. This scene is symbolic of how Daisy’s carelessness has led to death and destruction. The novel ends with Nick looking out over the valley of ashes and thinking about how empty and meaningless the lives of the characters have been.
The novel The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, deals with a number of issues. One of the most prevalent messages is that of the American Dream’s impossibility. Fitzgerald describes people into two categories: those who seem to have it all and those who are still striving to realize their goals. Tom and Daisy are two people who appear to have everything: a nice home, a devoted spouse, a lovely child, and plenty on money (Fitzgerald 6; ch. 1). Neither one is satisfied, though, and both ultimately fall in love with someone else.
Gatsby, on the other hand, represents the idea of hope and possibility. He is a self-made man who has worked hard to achieve his goals and he is hopeful that he can win Daisy’s love (Fitzgerald 69; ch. 6). However, Gatsby’s dreams are ultimately dashed when he realizes that Daisy will never leave Tom for him. The dust that Fitzgerald mentions in the novel symbolizes the harsh reality of life and the futility of the American Dream.
The dust is everywhere in the novel, from the streets of New York City to the fields of Long Island, and it represents the imperfections and problems of everyday life. The dust is a reminder that no matter how hard someone may try, they will never be able to achieve perfection. The American Dream is an unattainable goal, and Fitzgerald uses the dust to symbolize this idea.
While The Great Gatsby is a tragedy, it is also a reminder that the pursuit of happiness is worth the effort, even if the outcome is not what was hoped for. The novel shows that while life may be full of disappointments, it is still possible to find beauty and hope in the midst of it all.
In this aspect, the novel seems to be a study of midlife crisis. Gatsby and his wife, Daisy, are two examples of people seeking for perfection in their lives. By the conclusion of the book, both Gatsby’s and Mrs. Wilson’s expectations have been dashed, and they have died.
The image of dust is employed several times while discussing these two people’s lost aspirations. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald employs dust to symbolize the common man’s dreams being destroyed. For example, Mrs. Wilson was a housewife who aspired to establish a better existence for herself and her family.
Myrtle’s dreams were finally realized when she met Tom Buchanan. She thought he was going to take her away from her boring life, but in the end he only used her and then discarded her. The dust that covered her after she was hit by a car symbolized how her dreams had been destroyed.
The same is true for Gatsby. He, too, was a man with big dreams. He wanted to be rich and famous, and he worked hard to achieve his goals. But in the end, his dream was destroyed by the very thing he wanted most: money. The dust that covered him after his death symbolized how his dream had turned to dust.
While The Great Gatsby is full of images of dust, it is also full of images of hope. The green light at the end of Daisy’s dock is a symbol of Gatsby’s hope that he will one day be able to win her back. The image of the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg is a symbol of God’s watchful eye over the characters in the novel. And finally, the image of the rising sun is a symbol of new beginnings. In spite of all the dust and destruction in The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald still manages to give us a glimpse of hope.
Ultimately, Gatsby had his desires fulfilled for a brief period when Daisy informed him she loved him (116; ch. 7). This perfection, on the other hand, did not last long. Daisy went back to Tom soon after, and Gatsby’s prospects of living his perfect life were shattered. When Nick goes to Gatsby’s mansion following Daisy’s return to Tom, he notices that “there was an inexplicable amount of dust everywhere” (147, ch. 8). This dust represented Gatsby’s demolished hopes.
The presence of dust everywhere in Gatsby’s house symbolized how his dreams had turned to ashes. When Nick goes over to Gatsby’s house for the second time, he notes that there is “an inexplicable amount of dust everywhere” (147; ch. 8). This dust is a physical embodiment of the destruction of Gatsby’s dreams.
The fact that the dust is everywhere shows how completely Gatsby’s hopes and plans have been ruined. The dust also symbolizes the emptiness of Gatsby’s life without Daisy. Before, Gatsby had something to strive for; now, he has nothing. The dust represents the futility of Gatsby’s situation and the emptiness of his life.
The very first line of the novel also hints at Gatsby’s disappointments: “It was a beautiful day, and we were driving back to New York in my new green car when the radio began talking about dust” (2; ch. 1). Dust is mentioned once again here, emphasizing Gatsby’s failure as a dreamer.
Theda Wrede also argues that “Gatsby’s dust, the telltale sign of his fall from grace, embodies all that is trashy and superficial in the newly rich world of The Great Gatsby” (130). The idea of new money being looked down upon is a large theme in The Great Gatsby. The idea of untarnished hope is also destroyed by the image of dust. In other words, when Gatsby’s dreams turn to dust, so does his innocence.
Dust plays an important role in The Great Gatsby as a symbol of the characters’ decline and fall. Fitzgerald uses the image of dust to represent the futility and emptiness of the American dream. The decline of the American dream is a major theme in The Great Gatsby and Fitzgerald uses dust to emphasize this theme.
Dust is also used as a symbol of death. In the novel, Gatsby’s car hits and kills a woman named Myrtle Wilson. The hit-and-run turns out to be fatal and Myrtle dies in the hospital. The image of dust is used to describe the aftermath of the accident. “I heard the phone ringing inside, but after a while it stopped.
Then there were footsteps on the porch, and I caught a glimpse of Daisy’s nervous face peering through the Blind…The whoosh of tires on pavement, followed by a second car turning off with a jolt, told me they were gone” (173; ch. 7). The image of dust is used to describe the car speeding away from the scene of the accident. The use of dust here emphasizes the cold and callous nature of Gatsby and Daisy’s actions.