Symbols are crucial in the book and they also permeate through the film but not on the same level. In the film it does not become quite clear what the symbols stand for.

There are mainly three symbols: The Valley of the Ashes, The Green Light, and Dr. T.J. Eckleburg.

The Valley of the Ashes stands for the theme of the corruption of the American Dream by materialism. Words like "dust", "powder" evoke the emptiness, the hollowness and the futility of America of the Jazz Age. The characters who live in this valley are aimless, they do not know what to do with their time, life is meaningless, devoid of purposeful idealism.

It is Wilson who epitomizes the failure of the American Dream. He is clearly working-class, seems to be continuously sick and he is a loser in his marriage as well.