F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby is about a man named Gatsby, in love with a woman, Daisy, who is married to Tom Buchannan. He dreams that one day he and Daisy will get together. Gatsby has worked hard to become the man that he believes will impress Daisy. Even though he has an extravagant house, lots of money, and wild parties, he is without the one person he wants, Daisy. Even befriending Nick deals with Gatsby getting Daisy, because Daisy is Nick’s cousin. In a meeting arranged by Nick and Gatsby, Daisy is invited over for tea and she sees Gatsby. It seems as if time is suspended for a moment, as they look at each other both thinking something. Then Gatsby tips over Nick’s clock, symbolizing that he is running out of time to try to capture what he and Daisy once lost. Through the lonely and careless characters of: Jordan Baker Jay Gatsby, Myrtle, and G. Wilson, Fitzgerald is able to illustrate the lack of spirituality in this novel.Order now
The main place in The Great Gatsby that shows the lack of spirituality is the Valley of Ashes, where Myrtle and her husband, George Wilson live. It is a bleak, desolate valley including only one building, a car garage. One day while driving around Tom and Nick stop off at the valley to see Myrtle, Tom’s mistress. Nick describes this valley as being: “about half way between West Egg and New York… a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens” (27). The concern here is with the corruption of values and the decline of spiritual life. The traditional views of God and Religion are dead here and the readers can tell this because the only God-like image in this novel is a billboard with the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg advertising glasses. The eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg represents the fact that God and religion have taken a less substantial role in comparison with the gods that have the powers of wealth, status, and greed. Dr. Eckleburg represents God, but by the way Nick describes the billboard tells the readers that even though God may watch over His people, he is being ignored in this novel, which is symbolized by the decaying billboard: “his eyes, dimmed a little by many paint less days under the sun and rain” (28). George Wilson is the owner of the car garage in the Valley of Ashes. When Nick first meets Wilson he describes him as a “blonde, spiritless, man” the description fits him well because Wilson works on machines, especially cars (29). Machines are the lifeless, inanimate objects from which Wilson makes his living. Machines have no spirit; according to Nick Wilson has no spirit either.
Carelessness shows lack of spirituality because if a person is careless then he or she is reckless and usually has no concern for rules or consequences. The disregard for other people is shown in this novel mostly through driving. Nick tells Jordan one day while he is riding with her that she is: “a rotten driver…either you ought to be more careful or you oughtn’t to drive at all” (63). Jordan protests that she is a careful driver but messes up her statement by saying: “they’ll keep out of my way” (63). That shows that she has a lack of concern for other drivers and only concern for herself if she believes that other people will keep out of her way. Say she meets someone else that has that same motto. Jordan was right when she pointed out to Nick that: “it takes two to make an accident” (63).
By his own choice Gatsby tries to remain secluded and Nick observes that he does this even at his own parties: “my eyes fell on Gatsby, standing alone on marble steps and looking from one group to another with approving eyes… I wondered if the fact that he was not drinking helped to set him off from his guests” (54). He is rarely seen among his guests, most of the time he is just watching them. Gatsby is a lonely man, although there was a small bit of romantic speculation between him and Daisy, that idea is crushed in the hotel room when Daisy admits to Gatsby that he wants too much. Tom ends the dispute by saying to Daisy: “Go on … I think he realizes that his presumptuous little flirtation is over” (142). This scene marked the end for Gatsby and Daisy. This is a hard concept for Gatsby to grasp because he has spent most of his life longing for Daisy. One day Nick sees him outside with his arms: “stretched out… toward the dark water in a curious way, and as far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling…I glanced seaward and distinguished nothing except a single green light” (26). That light was on the end of Daisy’s dock, which is why he built his house where he did, so he could see Daisy’s. Even Nick knows that for Gatsby to imagine that what he thought he had with Daisy is over is too hard to believe and says: “he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream. He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered” (169). Gatsby had no faith to fall back on. Gatsby’s world does not extend beyond Daisy, just as Wilson’s world revolved around Myrtle. When she is murdered, all Wilson can think about is revenge. Once Wilson murders Gatsby, he has no other reason for living, so he kills himself, because without Myrtle he can no longer function. On the other hand, Gatsby believes until the day he dies that Daisy never loved Tom and that there was still hope for him and his only love.