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I'd like to know the meaning of "intently" in this excerpt from the chapter Two of The...

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coutelle | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted July 21, 2013 at 10:59 PM via web

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I'd like to know the meaning of "intently" in this excerpt from the chapter Two of The Great Gatsby:

“I want to see you,” said Tom intently. “Get on the next train.”

“All right.”

“I’ll meet you by the news-stand on the lower level.” 

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

Posted July 21, 2013 at 11:34 PM (Answer #1)

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In the context of the quote, Tom is speaking with Myrtle.  As Nick does, the reader knows that Myrtle is Tom's mistress.  It is a reflection of Tom's character that he takes whatever he wants, regardless of consequences or implications.  In this case, Tom wants Myrtle.  She is married to George, someone Tom does not respect. Regardless of what Myrtle, or anyone else for that matter, wants, Tom takes what he desires.

At this particular instant, he desires Myrtle.  When he speaks to her, George has gone inside his office, at his wife's request, to get some chairs so everyone can sit down.  At that instant, Tom and Myrtle are alone.  Along with Nick, Tom is able to speak to Myrtle directly.  It is at this point in which he tells Myrtle what he wants.  In speaking to her "intently," Fitzgerald wishes to convey how Tom wants what he wants.  There is a deliberate intent to his speaking to Myrtle.  He does not tell her that he wishes to see her if she is free or if she can get away.  He speaks to her with a direct intent, that of his want and desire.  In following this "intent" condition with "Get on the next train," it is clear that Tom speaks to her with a sense of demand, of purpose, and of direct intent to satisfy his own desires.

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