“The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” The American Dream is the idea surrounding success for everyone and this is displayed through the whole book with every character trying to succeed or have failed the dream. James F. G. constantly criticises the dream through his novel, and he does this through his characters as no one has truly succeeded. For example, Tom was born into riches, which is not successful but fortunate.
The Valley of Ashes, between the illusion of success in New York City and the Old money/New money segregation of long island, represents the failure of the American Dream Very well. Nick first describes the valley as ‘a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens;’ where the poor try to achieve the Dream of wealth, equality and success. Sadly these people have fallen for the illusion of New York City, where ‘Anything can happen’ ‘…even Gatsby could happen’ resulting in the valley being a lower, working class.
Myrtle owns an apartment in New York City which is her idea of ‘The American Dream’ but really this might just be her escape from her reality of failure, when she goes to the apartment she drinks and party as if she has succeeded.