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In Chapter Two of The Great Gatsby, how does Myrtle behave as the party progresses?

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ShayMyName | Student | (Level 1) Honors

Posted January 29, 2013 at 4:53 AM via iOS

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In Chapter Two of The Great Gatsby, how does Myrtle behave as the party progresses?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 29, 2013 at 6:38 AM (Answer #1)

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Once in New York, Myrtle Wilson has done more than change her dress. Letting four taxis pass by until she finds a new one with lavender seats, Mrs. Wilson affects a behavior that belies her true social status. For instance, she asks Tom to buy her a dog and calls her sister Catherine, who Myrtle says is considered "to be very beautiful by people who ought to know." Then, she phones the McKees, who live in an apartment in the same building, and invites them to her rooms that Tom has rented. However, in contradiction of her facade of being a socialite, Myrtle has several outdated copies of Town Tattle along with some of the "scandal magazines."

After the McKees arrive, Myrtle changes into a cream-colored chiffon dress, and her personality seems to change with it, Nick remarks,

The intense vitality that had been so remarkable in the garage was converted into impressive hauteur. Her laughter, her gestures, her assertions became more violently affected moment by moment....

When she is complimented on her dress, Myrtle says, "It's just a crazy old thing," as though she owns many dresses of this quality. And, when Tom tells her to get more ice, Myrtle acts as though she is one of the haughty upper class:

"I told that boy about the ice....These people! You have to keep after them all the time."

Glancing at Nick, she laughs emptily; she "flounces over" to the dog, kissing it "with ecstasy" and then hurries into the kitchen as though, Nick narrates, chefs waited for her orders.

As the afternoon wanes, Myrtle's artificiality expands as she disparages her husband, saying that she married him "because I thought he was a gentleman," and she moves closer to Nick, and sensually pours out the story of how she met Tom.  Turning to Mrs. McKee, she continues her charade of being a lady of wealth and position as she says she must have a massage, a wave in her hair, and a collar for her dog, and a wreath for her mother's grave. However, she oversteps her role and loses control, for when she makes remarks about Daisy, Tom unemotionally breaks her nose, ending the day's theatrics. 

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