Provide physical and behavioral descriptions of Myrtle and explain the connotations behind these descriptors.

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Myrtle's characterization presents her as a coarse, crass, yet ultimately pitiable character driven by social mobility, which she defines only in a materialistic sense.  Physically, she is the antithesis of the willowy, slightly androgynous flapper of the 1920's; Nick describes her as "thickish" and "faintly stout" and though lacking beauty, she possesses "an immediately perceptive vitality."  Her voice ("soft, coarse") and unrefined and uniformed manner of speaking at the party she and Tom host ("...I had a woman up here to look at my feet, and when she gave me the bill you'd of thought she had my appendicitis out") reveal her vulgarity.  Her use of racial slurs ("kike"), denigration of her hard-working husband, and blithe pursuit of a married man sketch an unlikable woman who embodies the shallow desires Fitzgerald is critiquing. Myrtle is a woman driven by base appetites for sex, alcohol, and the trivial things money can buy: scandal magazines, cold cream, drug store perfume, a trick ashtray, and most sadly, a dog she has forgotten by mid-afternoon--thereby catching Nick's attention as the antithesis of the core values with which he has been raised.  

Fitzgerald, F. Scott.  The Great Gatsby. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1925.

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The Great Gatsby

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