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In The Great Gatsby, what is the significance of the puppy episode?

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headcrab | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 4, 2011 at 7:47 AM via web

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In The Great Gatsby, what is the significance of the puppy episode?

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jgomezada | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted October 15, 2011 at 3:34 PM (Answer #1)

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The puppy in The Great Gatsby is significant in two ways. First, it represents an attempt by Myrtle to solidify and domesticate her adulterous relationship with Tom. While on their way to their New York apartment, Myrtle spots a man selling dogs and says, “I want to get one of those dogs…I want to get one for the apartment. They’re nice to have — a dog.” In the couple’s attempt to play house in New York, Myrtle believes the puppy to be the perfect and final touch. When in the city, they don’t have to hide their affair, and freely and openly live as a couple. Myrtle probably views the puppy as her and Tom’s “love child” in a way. On the other hand, Tom’s personality and attitude towards their relationship is also evident through his attitude towards the puppy. While he wants to please Myrtle, he counters her opinion of the puppy being cute by noting the dog’s poor breeding and says to the vendor, “Here’s your money. Go and buy ten more dogs with it.”

Later, the puppy plays a larger, more significant role in the novel. He is actually the reason George Wilson discovers his wife's infidelity. George finds an expensive dog leash hidden amongst Myrtle's belongings but notes that they have no dog. This discovery leads George to conclude that his wife had a wealthy lover, and this revelation ultimately, and erroneously, leads him to Gatsby, prompting Gatsby’s unwarranted murder and George’s demise by his own hand.

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