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The Eyes of Doctor T. J Eckleburg

A particular feature of the valley of ashes is the billboard on which are portrayed two disembodied "blue and gigantic" eyes, with "retinas one yard high". The eyes look out through "a pair of enormous yellow spectacles". The oculist, Doctor T.J. Eckleburg, whose business they advertise, has probably now himself sunk down "into eternal blindness", or else moved away and forgotten about the advert.

What do the eyes suggest?

  • The eyes continue to stare broodingly across the "dumping-ground". This is a disturbing image, suggesting that the denizens of the valley have been similarly forgotten and abandoned.
  • When Myrtle dies, George addresses the eyes as if they are the eyes of God, emphasising the hopelessness of his situation, as if he is placing his faith in a faded commercial advertisement from which no help will ever come.
  • The image of the vacant eyes also anticipates Gatsby "watching over nothing" when he waits outside Daisy's house after the accident, ironically concerned for her safety when it is his own life which is soon to be cut short.

Myrtle's apartment

Tom has bought a small apartment in 158th Street in New York where he can meet his mistress, Myrtle. The first description of the building as "a long white cake of apartment-houses" echoes Daisy's room with its "wedding cake frosted" ceiling. However, although Myrtle feels very proud of her apartment (she casts a "regal" glance at it) it is clear Tom has not spent much money on it:

  • it is on the top floor of the block, which is usually the cheapest
  • it is very tiny: "a small living-room, a small dining-room, a small bedroom and bath."
  • repetition of 'small' shows that Tom, who is very wealthy, has spent the minimum.
  • comedy in the description of the overly large furniture which people trip over, with its "scenes of ladies swinging in the gardens of Versailles."
The ridiculousness of the furniture shows Tom's contempt for Myrtle, and Myrtle's pride in her apartment is both comic and pathetic - she will ultimately become a victim of Tom's selfishness.

The Suite at the Plaza Hotel

The important confrontation between Gatsby and Tom takes place here. The room is described as "large and stifling", the heat is a metaphor for the emotional tension that is building.

Nick had already described the weather as "broiling", noting in the train on his way to Daisy's that the "straw seats of the car hovered on the edge of combustion."

Nick notes how the "compressed heat exploded into sound" as they hear the Mendelssohn's Wedding March from the ballroom below. This seems like a mocking comment on Tom and Daisy's relationship as both are engaged in adulterous affairs.