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WHAT DO WE LEARN ABOUT THE CHARACTER MYRTLE IN CHAPTER 2 AND WHAT TECHNIQUES DOES FITZGERALD USE TO TELL THE STORY?

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Introduction

Look again at chapter two of the novel. Then answer the questions. 1) What do we learn about the character Myrtle in this chapter? The description of Myrtle in chapter two reveals a lot about he personality and appearance. Myrtle seems to be very sensuous and full of vitality, 'she carried her flesh sensuously'. This implies that she has a kind of sexiness about her. The fact that Nick describes it means that it was prominent enough for him to notice how she was walking across the room. At the same time the word 'flesh' creates an image of Myrtle that she has excessive weight. This could be interpreted unconventionally as slim and slender women are normally associated with sexiness and sensuality. Because of this stereotype, it could imply that Myrtle has confident quality about her, to be able to feel sexy enough to carry her 'flesh sensuously' and not feel ashamed or embarrassed as some women would. Myrtle also shows a little bit of aggressiveness throughout the chapter towards her husband, Wilson, the mechanic, and Tom, friend to Nick and Daisy's husband. The aggressiveness and assertiveness is not shown through her actions but her idiolect. When Nick and Tom go to visit Myrtle in the Garage, Myrtle directs Wilson, her husband to 'Get some chairs, why don't you,' she made no effort to use polite mannerisms to her husband or to get the chairs herself. Later in the chapter we see another episode of Myrtle's temper when she is provoking Tom into an argument. ...read more.

Middle

Everything that Nick describes that he observes while traveling in Tom's car has a connection to waste and ash. The Valley of Ashes is the 'desolate area' that lies in between New York, where all the money is made, and West Egg where all the money is spent. West Egg is a perfect illustration of the 'American Dream' something that the 'Valley of Ashes' exists without. The 'grotesque gardens', 'powdery air', 'grey land' and 'bleak dust' are just a few of the metaphors and words used to create an image of the 'Valley of Ashes'. Ashes are the reminisce of objects that have been burnt and left to disintegrate even further or to blow away and disappear forever without trace. In this chapter Fitzgerald uses the ashes to represent the poor people in America. The people living in the 'Valley of Ashes' are disregarded and taken advantage of by the people living the 'American Dream' . In the first chapter we are introduced to the 'Eggs', West and East. They are described to be 'a source of perpetual wonder' 'separated only by a courtesy bay'. Everything was described with such prosperity and admiration; this is a significant contrast to the grey 'wasteland' and 'solemn dumping ground' described in this chapter. It shows profound insight into the comparison between the poor and rich societies of America in the 1920's. Also in this chapter we are introduced to Wilson, a lower class member and to his place of work, a repairs garage. 'The interior was unprosperous and bare', opposed to the interior of Daisy's and Tom's home in West Egg, which is gleaming white, and clinical looking as we are told earlier on in chapter one. ...read more.

Conclusion

Both parties begin with a happy and gay atmosphere before turning cold and disrupted. Through the effects of alcohol on the guests, the guests turn on one another and the parties end in dejection. At Myrtle's party the anguish forms when Myrtle starts to purposely aggravate Tom by repeating Daisy's name over and over again to him, in front of her guests.' Daisy! Daisy! Daisy!' As the tension builds at this section of the chapter the climax is reached when Tom through fury, breaks Myrtle's noise with a 'short deft movement'. This is where Tom is revealed to be to be tyrannical and to possess an autocratic behavior when provoked. Once again by showing the violent nature of Tom towards people shows that he does not like it when he is not in control, as he usually is. Higher class people do not like to be undermined by people and so feel like they have to remind them who is the boss. As the chapter comes to an end, the reader is found questioning oneself about how reliable Nick actually is. At the end of the chapter Nick's ambiguous sexuality is suggested, he finds himself after consuming alcohol 'standing beside his bed and he was sitting up between the sheets, clad in his underwear'; the other male being Mr. McKee, another character in the novel. This could suggest that Nick's responses and judgments, despite the fact that he claims he is 'not judgmental' of others could be tainted by sexual feelings toward them. There is later evidence that this could be true particularly involving Gatsby. The chapter closes with Nick ending up alone in the train station re-emphasising the austere quality of life in the Valley of Ashes. ...read more.

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