What Does the Valley of Ashes Symbolize in “The Great Gatsby”?

The valley of ashes in “The Great Gatsby” symbolizes lifelessness and darkness. In the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, the valley of ashes exists between Gatsby’s home in West Egg and New York City and serves as an industrial dumping ground where nothing lively exists.

Myrtle Wilson’s death happens in the valley of ashes, reinforcing the valley’s symbolism. Her death brings darkness and pain to her husband, George Wilson, who is a garage owner in the valley. Not surprisingly, he is poor and miserable. He does not see the truth about the affair between his wife and Tom Buchanan. While George refuses to acknowledge the affair, Myrtle refuses to acknowledge her true situation, as she aspires to a lifestyle that does not suit her husband or her marriage.