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Chapter Two of The Great Gatsby presents the desolate area of land known as the Valley of Ashes as a metaphor for the decadence of the wealthy classes in the roaring twenties. The symbolic Doctor T. J. Ecleburg with blues eyes looking out of huge yellow spectacles which "pass over a nonexistent nose" brood over the "solemn dumping ground," the area where the industrial waste of New York's is brought. In this ominous setting, Nick Carraway mentions that passengers on waiting trains, who are halted by barges passing through the drawbridge, have at least a minute to contemplate this valley of ashes. And, because of this Nick meets Mrytle Wilson, the mistress of Tom Buchanan.
In the hotel room of New York that Tom has for Myrtle, there is much dissembling after Myrtle changes her dress and is somehow transformed. After much artificial conversation, Myrtle and Tom are face to face around midnight, discussing in heated words whether Myrtle has any right to mention Daisy's name. Angrily, Myrtle shouts Daisy's name; Tom, "making a short deft movement," breaks Myrtle's nose with the back of his hand.
This violent action hints, or foreshadows other violent actions. Tom's character here as well as in Chapter One is established as brutish and villainous. Later, it will be with Daisy at the wheel of Gatsby's car that Myrtle meets her fate, and the callous and cruel Tom Buchanan will disguise the facts of what has happened, concerned only at preserving his and his wife's social status.
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