The Great Gatsby

What is the Valley of Ashes, literally? What else might it represent?

Ch 2 - passage 2

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The Valley of Ashes make up the undesirable, poorer section between the Eggs and the city. The road from West Egg to New York City exemplifies decay. It is a "valley of ashes," a place of uninterrupted desolation. The novel's only non-wealthy characters live in the valley of ashes; it is the grim underside to the hedonism of the Eggs, and of New York City. George Wilson, Myrtle's dejected husband, seems almost made of ashes: "ashen dust" coats his clothes and his hair. Fitzgerald represents poverty as lying beneath wealth and providing the wealthy with a dumping ground. It is what the wealthy wish to avoid seeing at all costs.