Discuss the social conditions around Myrtle in The Great Gatsby.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Myrtle is a fairly important character in the scope of the novel.  She lives in a lower economic class.  This is really important as it helps to provide the basis for her relationship with Tom.  Part of the objectification through wealth that Fitzgerald evokes throughout the novel is seen in Tom's relationship with Myrtle.  Tom is able to use and abuse Myrtle because he is of a higher class, she is willing to be mistreated because of this disparity of wealth, and the belief that she can achieve upward mobility through being an overall concubine for Tom.  Myrtle's wife is lived through her willingness to be whatever Tom wants for her.  Tom is able to "buy" her off with small trinkets, like the dog, clothes, and whatever else will allow her to accept the illusion that she can be "loved" by Tom and that he will accept her into the pantheon of wealth.  Fitzgerald contrasts Myrtle's lack of emotional and financial presence with Tom's abundance.  The objectified reality with which he, Daisy, and Jordan appropriate the world makes Myrtle and her husband a victim of it.  Myrtle's world

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