In chapter one of The Great Gatsby, we meet Nick Carraway, a young man from Minnesota, telling the story of his short stay in New York. Clearly something happened in New York that caused him to return to the Midwest. While in New York, he settles himself into a house on West Egg. It is one of two neighborhoods, and considered to be less fashionable than its counterpart, East Egg, due to it’s residents’ fairly ‘new’ money. Nick finds a modest home for himself flanked by two monstrous mansions, one of which belongs to Jay Gatsby. We don’t meet Gatsby in chapter one, but Nick mentions this; “Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men,” (Fitzgerald 8). Nick is saying that Gatsby was okay as a man, but his goals and aspirations were somewhat troubling to him.
Soon after his move to West Egg, he makes a visit to East Egg to visit his cousin Daisy, her husband Tom Buchanan, and a friend of Daisy’s, Jordan Baker, a very attractive young golfer. Daisy is obviously quite comfortable in her posh life, and comes off extremely vapid. Tom is clearly racist, and has a rather large ego. He goes off on a rant about how the Nordic race created everything the world has. That is incredibly ironic when they are eating a meal that a black person prepared, by candlelight, the candles of which they didn’t even light themselves.
In the middle of dinner, Tom takes a call, and Daisy hurries after him. Jordan tells Nick that that would be Tom’s mistress calling. Later, as Nick and Daisy are talking, she tells a story about how immediately after she gave birth, Tom left, abandoning his wife and child. Looking at her baby girl, Daisy says, “I hope she’ll be a fool - that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool,” (Fitzgerald 21). Daisy herself is trying to be a beautiful fool. That is the only way she can see to be happy in her life. Chapter 2
In chapter two, Tom all but forces Nick to go with him into the city. However, they make an unexpected stop in ‘the valley of ashes,’ a barren stretch of land in between East and West Egg. All that seems to be around is an old garage. Tom leads Nick toward the garage, where he torments the owner, Wilson, about a car he would like to sell. Then Wilson’s wife, who is also Tom’s mistress, Myrtle, appears, and Tom instructs her to follow him to the train.
Despite Nick’s previous attempts to leave the couple, Nick finds himself in the city at an apartment Tom has apparently purchased for himself and Myrtle. Once at the apartment, Myrtle suggests they invite some people up for a party. Soon after the guests arrive, the whole event became doused in cigarettes and liquor.
When away from her home and husband, Myrtle takes on a much haughtier persona, and at one point, gives her sister this advice, “My dear,…most of these fellas will cheat you every time. All they think of is money,” (Fitzgerald 32). That’s ironic, considering Myrtle is clearly only with Tom for his money and affluence. Her husband is a perfectly nice man, who is madly in love with her, but she strays anyway. She enjoys acting as though she has money. When a guest complements her opulent dress, Myrtle replies disdainfully, saying its an old dress she just threw on. He behavior reflects nothing of her real life.
As things got later and Myrtle became more intoxicated, she began to taunt Tom by chanting his wife’s name. He quickly tells her that it is not her place, and to never mention Daisy again. Myrtle retorts by more chanting, and Tom swiftly breaks her nose, quickly ending the festivities. He obviously feels nothing for his mistress. He loves his wife, and feels some remorse for his infidelity. This whole chapter just shows the fakeness of the rich, as well as the wannabes.
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