What aspects of Myrtle are addressed in this passage from chapter 2 of The Great Gatsby

"I told that boy about the ice." Myrtle raised her eyebrows in despair at the shiftlessness of the lower orders. "These people! You have to keep after them all the time." She looked at me and laughed pointlessly. Then she flounced over to the dog, kissed it with ecstasy and swept into the kitchen, implying that a dozen chefs awaited her orders there. "I’ve done some nice things out on Long Island," asserted Mr. McKee.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In chapter two, Tom invites Nick to the city, where he proceeds to throw a party with his mistress at their downtown apartment. Myrtle Wilson is depicted as a vivacious woman who regrets marrying George and naively believes that Tom will leave Daisy for her. Once they get into the city, she requests that Tom buy her a dog for their apartment. Tom reluctantly purchases a dog, and Myrtle proceeds to make herself at home in their small apartment.

Myrtle purchasing a dog can be viewed as her attempt to consolidate their relationship and represents her desire to be his wife. She is attempting to cultivate a homely environment that replicates an established marriage and refuses to recognize the reality of her situation.

During the party, Myrtle criticizes the attendant in charge of supplying the ice and remarks,

These people! You have to keep after them all the time. (35)

Myrtle's comment displays her lack of self-awareness as she attempts to play the part of an affluent aristocrat. Nick then mentions,

She looked at me and laughed pointlessly. Then she flounced over to the dog, kissed it with ecstasy and swept into the kitchen, implying that a dozen chefs awaited her orders there. (36)

Myrtle's behavior and actions highlight her desire to be Tom's wife and depict her as a delusional woman who firmly believes that she is a member of the upper class. In Tom's apartment, Myrtle can pretend that she is a wealthy aristocratic with the authority to order attendants around while she fantasizes about living a luxurious lifestyle. Nick finds her behavior quite humorous considering the fact that she is married to a lowly, poor man and is nothing more than a mistress.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial