Saturday, 20 October 2012

Group 1 - Question 2

Question: Analyse the opening paragraphs of chapter 2. How does this contribute to the atmosphere? Describe the atmosphere of the novel to this point and why it might be significant to the novel.

The opening paragraphs of chapter two describe the valley of ashes. The valley is the complete opposite of other places in the book. In fact, the only colour used to describe it is grey, a colour associated with loss or depression. The diction and other rhetorical devices used in the description make the valley seem like a negative or bad dream. It is described as a “fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens”. At first, the valley is described as fantastic but then it is described as grotesque and grey, which gives the valley a sense of deterioration, comparable to the American dream. The atmosphere in the valley of ashes is vapid, careless, poor and bleak.

The eyes of Dr. T.J Eckleburg are also described in these paragraphs. These eyes are “unblinking” and one yard high which gives the impression of always being watched. The colours used to describe the eyes and the glasses are yellow and blue. These colours can have a negative connotation. Blue can mean sickness and power. Yellow can also mean jealousy, decay and sickness. Also, the oculist who made the eyes is said to be a “wild wag” that once used the eyes to “fatten” his practices. The diction makes the idea seem to fit in with the American dream of the time. However, now the eyes are “solemn” and “dimmed”, which gives a sense of deterioration and carelessness.

The atmosphere up to this point of the novel is glamorous, rich and lively. In the valley, the atmosphere is dead, poor and dirty, the opposite of the first chapter. This could again signify the deterioration of the American dream.

Ryan Bell

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