How does F. Scott Fitzgerald tell the story in chapter 2 of 'The Great Gatsby'?

Topics: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby Pages: 4 (1301 words) Published: May 11, 2014
How does F Scott Fitzgerald tell the story in chapter two of ‘The Great Gatsby’?

The introduction of Tom’s mistress, Myrtle, in Chapter Two of ‘The Great Gatsby’ plays as the focal point of the chapter. It begins with Tom and Nick travelling into New York on the train, however they get off in the Valley of Ashes, a derelict setting between West Egg, East Egg and New York. The pair stop at a mechanics, and speak with the man who is married to Myrtle, Wilson. Myrtle, Tom and Nick then go to their New York apartment, and have a party with a few other guests. This party is the first real introduction of the mass consumption of liquor at the time, which was due to Prohibition. It highlights the excessive nature of the time, which is a constant theme in the novel, as seen at Gatsby’s elaborate parties. F Scott Fitzgerald uses the narrative techniques to establish the characters, whether they have been introduced to the reader or not already, and to expose the effects of the elaborate, greedy lives the wealthy lived on the less fortunate people.

The setting of the Valley of Ashes is key in telling the reader how the excessive lives lived by the wealthy is harming the less fortunate. Firstly, the repetition of the word ‘ash’ allows the reader to fully understand how desolate the Valley of Ashes is. It carries connotations of smoke, and dullness. The word ‘ash’ may be symbolic, as this is where the fire has been burnt out; there are no excessive parties, and the people here are not as colourful or as full of life as those in West Egg and East Egg. Furthermore, the valley is described as ‘fantastic farm and grotesque gardens’. As both farms and gardens are places in which things grow, it could be informing the reader that the mass production of things, along with the wild lifestyles of the wealthy, is causing this destruction, and that it will grow if it continues. It allows the reader to understand that the people living there are almost bi-products of the...
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