Chapter 2 questions, can anyone please help me, please1.Discuss the Character development of main characters in chapter 2 2. Conflict (with quotations in chapter 2 and explain it) 3. symbol (with...

Chapter 2 questions, can anyone please help me, please

1.Discuss the Character development of main characters in chapter 2

2. Conflict (with quotations in chapter 2 and explain it)

3. symbol (with quotations in chapter 2 and explain it)

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter Two of The Great Gatsby has much symbolism in it: 

The juxtaposition of The Valley of Ashes after the closing scene of Gatsby looking for the green light suggests the corruption of the American Dream by waste.  In the grey valley of industrial waste, the green of life has been ruined.  This contrast of images and ironic use of farm words to describe the Valley of Ashes, "the wasteland"                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           --"a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens" suggests the wasted opportunities in America in the pursuit of wealth.

The most salient symbol in this chapter is the billboard of Dr. T.J. Eckleberg,  "looking out of no face" with a pair of yellow [symbolic of corruption or gold/money] spectacles over a "nonexistent nose." Gone is the oculist who had him put there; all he does now is "brood on over the solemn dumping ground." The eyes are significant because like the God who gave man the New World, Dr. Eckleberg is also ignored.

As in Chapter One, the color white as a symbol is inverted and represents impurity  and the lack of integrity and substance.  Ironically, Nick says that he expects to see a white flock of sheep round the corner in New York, and he describes the West Hundreds"one slice in a long white cake of apartment houses.  Later, however, after he witnesses the phoniness of Myrtle and the brutality of Tom, Nick remarks, 

Yet high over the city our line of yellow windows much have contributed their share of human secrecy to the casual watcher....

Drunk, Nick's vision fades in and out as people appear and disappear, "made plans to go somewhere and then lost each other, searched for each other, then found each other" in wasted, artificial action.  They are jaded, cruel, and artificial.


ktmagalia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All characters have physically emerged at this point in the novel, except Jay Gatsby.  His development has begun, however, through party gossip and mysterious inferences.  Tom comes across as a beligerent bully, in contrast to the even tempered Nick, the constant observer.  Myrtle, the infamous "other woman" is portrayed as insecure and dependent on Tom through the puppy scene at the start of this chapter.  And the beautiful Daisy, introduced in the first chapter, is at the base of the conflict rising at the chapter's end with the fight between Myrtle and Tom. 

The beginning of this chapter presents the "other side of New York", the residential area that the likes of Gatsby and Tom avoid, the area of the workmen, in deep contrast to the East and West Eggs:

This is a valley of ashes—a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of ash-gray men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.… [And the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg] brood on over the solemn dumping ground.

Of course, this quotation above provides one of the most significant symbols, the famous eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg lurking above the dismal workers, watching and observing all actions of all inhabitants.  One can not escape his eyes, nor the eyes of God, hence this billboard symbolizes the fact that no none, not even those with money, can hide one's sins.  This, of course, becomes a major theme and confict as the novel progresses.

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The Great Gatsby

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