How does Myrtle react to Tom's arrival in The Great Gatsby?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 2, Tom stops by George Wilson's shop in order to tell Myrtle to follow him into the city. When Tom enters George's garage, he looks around until he spots Myrtle, who is sensuously carrying herself and admiring Tom. Nick mentions that Myrtle looks right past her husband like he is a ghost and begins licking her lips. Myrtle then stares directly at Tom when she shakes his hand and cannot take her eyes off him. Myrtle even refuses to turn her head when she tells her husband to grab some chairs so that their guests can have a seat. After George leaves their proximity, Tom tells Myrtle to take the next train into the city to meet up with him. Myrtle immediately agrees to follow Tom into the city and eventually spends the remainder of the day in a New York City apartment with Tom and his friends. Overall, Myrtle is completely infatuated with Tom when he first arrives at her husband's garage. She cannot take her eyes off Tom and ignores George during Tom's short visit. She also sensuously licks her lips and makes direct eye contact with Tom when she initially sees him.

favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first time Tom arrives at Wilson's garage, when he has Nick along with him, Myrtle is quite happy to see Tom, and she does whatever he tells her.  She "walk[s] through her husband as if he were a ghost," going right up to Tom, licking her lips and looking right into his eyes.  She seems very sexually suggestive in all her lush vitality and boldness.  Tom tells her to "get on the next train," and she acquiesces immediately.  She acts as though she is his to command.

The second time we see Tom arrive at Wilson's, he's in the car with Nick and Jordan Baker (Gatsby and Daisy are in another car).  Tom pulls up to get some gas, and Nick sees Myrtle watching them from an upstairs window.  Her "eyes were wide with jealous terror" and fixed on Jordan; Nick realizes that Myrtle believes that Jordan is Tom's wife, and she is burning with envy of her.

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The Great Gatsby

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