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 as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass. A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about…like that ashen, fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous trees.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby, Chapter 8. Nick imagines what Gatsby must have been feeling when George Wilson shot him as he lay on an air mattress in his pool. He tries to imagine what it was like for Gatsby to have lost his dream – the American Dream and Daisy who was a major part of it. The symbolism of the flower suggests that Gatsby felt disillusioned with Daisy and she was not a worthy object of his worship. The ‘ashen’ figure is George Wilson, the character most closely associated with the Valley of Ashes.