The idea of the American Dream is based on the fantasy that an individual can achieve success regardless of family history, race, and/or religion simply by working hard. The 1920's were a time of corruption and degradation of moral values in society. World War One was over and people were reveling in the materialism that came at the end of it, such as newly mass-produced commodities like motorcars and radios. The novel, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is an exploration of the American Dream, as it existed during a corrupt period in history. The Great Gatsby is a description of the decay of the American Dream and the desire for money and materialism. Fitzgerald accomplishes this through the use of symbols such as the Valley of Ashes, the Green Light, Gatsby's house, and the Eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg. .
Mid-way between West Egg and New York City, the Valley of Ashes lays. It is described as:.
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 .
It is in the valley of the ashes where the most tragic occurrences take place; Tom has his affair with Myrtle, Daisy kills Myrtle with Gatsby's car, and George Wilson decides to murder Gatsby. The Valley of Ashes is a dismal place representing the moral descent of mankind. As a result of the continuing growth of capitalism in the United States, there became a gigantic difference between those that were rich and those that were poor. The ashes in the Valley act as a symbol of the death of the American Dream. More specifically, they illustrate society and how what was once a pure and honest vision for success quickly turned into greed and selfishness. Consequently everything in the path of this greed became destroyed and lost. Anyone who lives in the Valley of Ashes is constantly reminded of the fact that they did not achieve the American Dream, and so now they must live in the shadows of everyone else that did.