In The Great Gatsby, how can the reader compare the setting of the party in Chapter Two with the setting of the party in Chapter One?
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The setting of the evening pary--breezy, rose-colored, golden--in which Nick has dinner with the Buchanans is in sharp contrast to that of the afternoon party at Tom's New York apartment--stuffy, crowded, yellow--in Chapter Two. When Nick crosses the expansive lawn on a warm evening, he traverses a high hallway into a
bright rosy-colored space, fragilely bound into the house by French windows at either end.
There is an airiness about the room as the curtains blow in at one end and out at the other as though the room were on the sea. In fact, Fitzgerald writes that two young women are "buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon" as they lounge in white dresses that "ripple" in the wind upon a huge couch. Nick narrates that when the other young woman, Jordan Baker, speaks, "the last sunshine fell with romantic affection" upon her face, and Daisy's voice glows as though she were singing.
In contrast to this rosy, romantic and airy setting, the New York apartment is stuffy and torpid. The late afternoon sky is visible only momentarily as it
...bloomed in the window for a moment like the blue honey of the Mediterranean--then the shrill voice of Mrs. McKee called...
The decor of the apartment does not compare, either, with the billowing white and soft light of candles against the rose of the rugs of the Buchanans' home. It is small and crowded with furniture that is too large and photgraphs out of proportion to the living room. Old copies of "scandal magazines" and "Town Tattle" lay on the table before the couch.
Unlike Daisy, whose languid figure glides out of the room, Myrtle Wilson wears a dress in brown muslin which stretches tightly over her wide hips, and there is a "perceptible vitality" about her. Later, she changes into an "elaborate afternoon dress of cream colored chiffon." And, her personality changes, too, as the "intense vitality" changes to "impressive hauteur" as her movements are affected as the afternoon wears away. Clearly, Myrtle feigns being from the socially elite. However, when a phone call comes for Tom, Myrtle becomes very angry and shouts Daisy's name repeatedly. With one "short deft movement," Tom Buchanan breaks her jaw. This action, of course, destroys the party atmosphere for everyone.
Despite differences, there are some similarities such as the disappointing ends to both evenings. While Nick watches as Jordan Baker leaves the room, he discovers Gatsby staring at the green light at the end of Daisy's pier.
And, in the apartment, Mr. McKee abruptly departs amid the arguing; Nick follows him, but later finds himself in the McKees' beside his bed as he shows him his photographs. Nick rides the four o'clock train back.
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