The Valley of Ashes
July 2nd, 1922, Sunday, 9:22 A.M. In the valley of ashes, between West Egg and New York, Doctor T. J. Eckleburg’s eyes brood over the toiling human figures engulfed in spasms of bleak dust, which rise from chimneys of yellow brick houses and the cracking of leaden spades against stiff ash piles on the dumping ground. Booker Harris finally relents to the heat and removes his old snagged jacket, hanging it on a low whitewashed railroad fence and placing his emptied cigar box on top. Grabbing his spade, he returns to work, completely unaware that in 8 minutes, his box of cigarettes, along with his jacket, will be stolen.
The 7 A.M. train pulls up 2 minutes late than usual, at 9:24 A.M. Tom Buchanan, accompanied by a new fellow, a gentleman 29-years, 10-months, and 5 days in age from Minnesota by the name of Nick Carraway, descends the platform of the train. The adulterer, with one arm gripping on Nick Carraway’s shoulder, and the other waving away invisible flies in his way, shoos Booker Harris out of his face in his routine eagerness to reach the garage of George B. Wilson. Handling a confused and reluctant Carraway, Tom Buchanan walks back a hundred yards along the road, trespassing the whitewashed railroad fence, and finally ends up at George Wilson’s front door, greeting him with his usual jovial chatters. Before he even arrived, Myrtle Wilson had been perching on the window of her bedroom–––the only thickly adorned room in the house–––scanning the perimeter of the dumping ground keenly. She had been slightly unsettled by the fact that, at 9:25 A.M., there was still no sight of Tom Buchanan. Now seeing that he has arrived, she is perturbed by the fact that a young strange gentleman arrived with him. For two seconds, pursing her lips and exchanging a frown with Doctor T. J. Eckleburg, she worried whether Tom Buchanan had come for the same reason he comes every week. Brushing off her concerns, the adulterer descends the stairs of the garage, carrying a smile of affected delights.
Myrtle Wilson brazenly strides through George Wilson, as if he were an invisible ghost, straight to Tom Buchanan. The plain-looking toiler ambles away reluctantly in search of two chairs, concealing a menacing scorn towards her insolence. The innocent backwardness of the man’s heart makes him fallible to committing devilish sins.
The Orgastic Future
August 28th, 1922, 1:47 P.M. James Gatz’s yellow limousine slides to an abrupt dusty stop in front of George B. Wilson’s garage, under Doctor T. J. Eckleburg’s constant gaze. George Wilson, supporting himself on the doorway handle, stares in dull wonder at the limousine in the sunlight’s glow. The discovery of his wife’s infidelity a couple of days ago has shattered the toiler’s naivety and thrown him into a fit of rage, upon which his violent animal-self had busted out; he had brutalized Myrtle Wilson and imprisoned her vitality to her wildly adorned bedroom. The battle, though more mental than physical, had worn him out. Tom Buchanan scolds him for his sloth, but his mind isn’t set on Tom Buchanan’s supercilious taunting or his suspicious horror at the news of Myrtle Wilson’s soon-to-be-but-never-will-happen departure from New York; his mind is set far on the past when the pair were blissful lovers and on the orgastic future that will fail to bring him the infinite possibilities it has promised.
Myrtle Wilson, meanwhile, surveys the outer world through the confinement of her windows, sharing a glance with Doctor T. J. Eckleburg at times. The recognition of Tom Buchanan has filled her lungs with an eagerness to scream and shatter her confining glass panes when a look upon the despairing beauty of Jordan Baker suddenly chokes her confidence. She swallows her vitality in jealousy and despair, but her pounding heart will not relent, groping at some last hope at her imagined dream-life with Tom Buchanan.
1:51 P.M. Doctor T. J. Eckleburg perceives Daisy Buchanan’s blue coupé speed by, driven by James Gatz; he is a prideful and lustful fraudster with otherwise superb morals, a refined manner, and a naïvely ambitious self-conception that is doomed to fail. In young Daisy Buchanan’s heart, her love, wanderlust, wistful reminiscence battle on with her determination to retain her title, security, and present life; the young gentleman drives on, completely unaware, and overconfident, heading towards his doom.
The Dead Dream
7:16 P.M. under Doctor T. J. Eckleburg’s usual vigil, Booker Harris treads down Street 176 in an immaculate black jacket he had purchased after losing his old one. As the evening rolls around, displacing the afternoon heat with a deadly chill, Booker Harris had relented and put on his new-bought jacket. He ambles towards his home–––the second yellow brick apartment from the clamoring railroad–––when he observes a racket break out in George B. Wilson’s garage. Myrtle Wilson, having spent the afternoon ramming the door of her bedroom, breaks free of her captivity. She hurtles downstairs, desperate to escape the dusty confinement of George Wilson’s reeking garage and unaware of the imminence of her demise. Stumbling towards the garage front door in the gathering darkness, she imagines her future beyond the dusty garage doors to which her vigorous heart has been chained for 10 years, 3 months, and 17 days. Her adultery with Tom Buchanan has reignited her aged vigor. George Wilson is and will never be enough for her, now that she has seen the opulence of the world beyond those doors. Her tremendous vitality has burst into flames; it has melted the last chains of dutifulness bounding her, but it has also engulfed her.
As she steps into the menacing dusk, George Wilson’s hand is thrown forcefully around her neck. She struggles, biting into his arm. Gasping for air, she cries defiantly to her battered aggressor, “beat me, you dirty little coward!” The toiler does not relent, clenching firm the last fabric of his life–––Myrtle Wilson, who constitutes the sole meaning of his present life, and for whose content he has toiled for 10 years, 3 months, and 17 days to this date. The conscious mind has given in, realizing the battle is lost, but the dead dream fights on until the gnawing pain compels his mortal muscles to retreat. He watches despairingly as Myrtle Wilson speed into the haunting darkness. His end has come and his destiny is set.
Myrtle Wilson dashes towards a speeding yellow limousine, clutching some last unreasoned hope that the driver, as she believes to be Tom Buchanan, will pull to a gentle stop and offer her a ride to her dreamland. The blinding headlight wobbles as the limousine steers away and back towards Myrtle Wilson. At her moment of death, blinded by the limousine’s glaring headlight, Myrtle Wilson only makes out a vague silhouette at the driver’s seat. Despair strikes and shatters her imagined dreamland as Myrtle Wilson realizes her indulging lover has chosen to take her life rather than endure an embarrassing confrontation with his wife. So, her vitality, dream, and her heart are vaporized before her body.