During the party at Myrtle's apartment with Tom, how do any one of the guests (or Myrtle) act as if they are something they are not?Recite a specific conversation or incident. What exactly are they...

During the party at Myrtle's apartment with Tom, how do any one of the guests (or Myrtle) act as if they are something they are not?

Recite a specific conversation or incident. What exactly are they pretending to be--why?

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Asked on by watsongirl

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As part of his satire of the Jazz Age, Fitzgerald points to the worship of affluence that all classes of people in the time illustrated.  In the New York apartment with the association of the wealthy Tom Buchanan, Myrtle Wilson somehow feels herself elevated.  Additionally, her sister,too, and the others carry on this same charade of social place.  Myrtles's sister, for example, a slender "worldly" girl who, after being called over to the apartment, enters with what Nick calls "such a proprietary haste" and looks around at the furniture "so possessively" that he wonders if she does not live there.  When he asks her if she does, Catherine laughs "immoderately" and repeats the question aloud to mock Nick. 

In fact, Catherine finds value in being the sister of Myrtle who has been elevated by being the mistress of such a wealthy man.  In a falsely intimate manner, she leans over to Nick and whispers in his ear about her sister and Tom, "Neither of them can stand the person they're married to." Then, as though she is part of the society of the Buchanans and knows them, she tells Nick,

"It's really his wife tha's keeping them apart.  She's a Catholic and they don't believe in divorce....When they do get married...they're going west to live for a while until it blows over."

Nick narrates that Daisy is not a Catholic and he is shocked at the "elaborateness of the lie."  This atmosphere of falsity is perpetuated by Mrs. McKee, too, as she develops Catherine's declaration that she and another "girl" traveled to Monte Carlo, saying that she almost married someone else until Chester McKee rescued her.  The entire atmosphere of the party is artificial:

People disappeared, reappeared, made plans to go somewhere, and then lost each other, searched for each other, found each other a few feet away.

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