Great Gatsby Paragraph

How does Fitzgerald use details of setting and imagery to establish a mood in the opening pages of chapter 2?
In chapter two of The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald uses hyperbole and metaphors to establish a mood of despair and discomfort. In this passage, Nick describes an area he calls the "Valley of Ashes" using a general metaphor that everything is made of or covered in ashes. He uses gloomy phrases such as "line of grey cars ... along an invisible track" and "men who ... [are] already crumbling through the powdery air" to make this scene feel hopeless. While the characters are not literally falling to pieces, the idea of men of crumbling ash creates a powerful image of despair in the reader. When describing the main landmark of the scene, the painting of the doctor Eckleburg's eyes, Fitzgerald reiterates on the ashy image surrounding it. "The grey land with spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it," gives the reader a good big picture idea of the scene after the more specific details of the men and trains. From this zoomed out perspective Fitzgerald adds larger details to reinforce the uncomfortable feeling produced by the valley of ashes. There is a "foul river" implied to be sullied by the intense work of the area that causes the train to stop and let the passengers and the viewer, observe the "dismal scene for as long as half an hour." Fitzgerald's exaggerated, stretched-out description of the scene ultimately creates a pocket of despair that our characters can return to later.

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