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

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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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