In The Great Gatsby, compare the setting of the party in Chapter Two with the setting of the party in Chapter One.
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During the party in Chapter 1, Nick and Jordan are eating dinner with Daisy and Tom at their home in East Egg. It is more of a dinner party and is quiet and private. There are only four people in total. The conversations that take place during this dinner party include Tom discussing his opinion of moral character and values, Daisy calling Tom a "brut" because he has a injured finger because of him, and Jordan enlightening Nick on Tom's affair with Myrtle. During this party, the characters are most likely drinking but are not drunk.
The party in Chapter 2 includes Tom, Myrtle, Nick, Catherine, and the McGees. This party is a bit louder and during this party Nick finds out a great deal of information about Tom and just how much he lies. Similar to the first party, the reader finds out that Tom is an extremely violent person when he hits Myrtle in the face for saying Daisy's name. The people at this party are not wealthy as Tom, Daisy, and Jordan are but do try to be just as pretentious. Additionally, there is a great deal of drinking going on at Myrtle's apartment during this party.
These two scenes present a telling contrast that plays into at least one of the novel's themes. The first chapter depicts an elaborate household wherein everyone plays a role as if acting in a drama. The second chapter also depicts a sort of "unreality" but the actors in this scene are incapable of inhabiting their parts successfully. The reality of the party in the second chapter is painfully obvious.
The first party takes place at the large and elaborate house owned by Tom and Daisy. In fact, it is a "red-and-white Georgian Colonial Mansion" and in it Nick encounters Daisy and Jordan on an "enormous couch [...] buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon." The elegance of the setting stands in notable contrast to the apartment in Chapter 2.
This apartment is cramped and in bad taste. Although it is on the top floor, the apartment has a "small living-room, a small dining-room, a small bedroom" and issues of Town Tattle, a tabloid/gossip publication, are sitting out on the table.
If the first party represents the glamorous dream of excess and elegance, the second represents the tawdry reality that the novel often suggests is only partially obscured by the brighter, glitzier dream.
"The world in which the characters live is an empty one. Underneath the glamour and glitz is a crippling hollowness, a vacant nothingness that underscores their existence" (eNotes).
In the first party, a scene plays out wherein Daisy charms Nick and acts the part of a slightly bitter and world-weary sufferer, suffering out of boredom and enjoying the suffering perhaps too much. It is a drama that borders on melodrama because it is apparently so optional and "put on."
The second party features Myrtle Wilson and her cohort, a group of hard drinkers and smokers who may like to play at being sophisticated as much as Daisy, but who cannot even for a moment pull it off. The mannered drama of the first party is inverted in the second. As the room fills with smoke and Tom turns violent, the gritty reality of shallow personalities playing loose with money and morality becomes very clear.
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