Support this theme using references to comments and incidents: the life of modern man is loud, harsh, and expensive; like the valley of ashes, however, it is a burnt-out affair with little meaning, importance, or joy.
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I think this is closely linked with the theme of decay throughout the novel. Decay is a word that constantly comes up in The Great Gatsby, which is appropriate in a novel which centers around the death of the American Dream. Decay is most evident in the so-called "valley of ashes." With great virtuosity, Fitzgerald describes a barren wasteland which probably has little to do with the New York landscape and instead serves to comment on the downfall of American society. It seems that the American dream has been perverted, reversed. Gatsby lives in West Egg and Daisy in East Egg; therefore, Gatsby looks East with yearning, rather than West, the traditional direction of American frontier ambitions. Fitzgerald portrays the chauvinistic and racist Tom in a very negative light, clearly scoffing at his apocalyptic vision of the races intermarrying. Fitzgerald's implication seems to be that society has already decayed enough and requires no new twist. East Egg becomes a world of superficial beauty on the outside but is full of rott and decay underneath.