What made Mrs. Mckee in The Great Gatsby a "shrill, horrible" person?The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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After accompanying Tom Buchanan and his mistress Myrtle Wilson on the train to New York, Nick Carraway meets people that Mrs. Wilson knows at the apartment which Tom keeps for his rendez-vous. He describes the McKees: Mr. McKee is a "pale feminine man from the flat below"; his wife is "shrill, languid, handsome and horrible."  For one thing, she imposes much of herself upon others.  When, for instance, she compliments Myrtle Wilson on her dress, she also adds,

"If Chester could only get you in that pose I think he could make something of it."

Then, while her husband is examining Myrtle's pose, declaring that he would change the light, Mrs. McKee cries,

"I wouldn't think of changing the light,"I think it's--"

But, her husband cuts her off, telling her "Sh!" As the subject changes, Nick talks with Myrtle's sister Catherine.  However, Mrs. McKee imposes herself again, interjecting, "Chester, I think you could do something with her," but Mr. McKee ignores her rude interruption.  Catherine leans toward Nick, explaining that neither Mr. McKee nor Tom can stand the people to whom they are married. 

Whenever Myrtle speaks to her, Mrs. McKee is fawning. And, when she speaks, she affects airs of someone who possesses some culture, but she actually lacks any because she envies social status.  Thus, Nick finds her repulsive and "horrible" because she is insincere, vulgar and tasteless.



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