2 Answers | Add Yours
Chapter two of The Great Gatsby is the place where readers learn that Nick is not a drinker. He reports, "I have been drunk just twice in my life, and the second time was that afternoon" as Nick visited Tom and Myrtle Wilson's New York City apartment. The end result of that fact is that Nick's memory of the afternoon's events "has a dim, hazy cast over it."
Nick demonstrates his ability to be a good listener several times during the chapter, as he becomes involved in discussions with Myrtle's sister Catherine and Myrtle. Topics include Daisy's religion - "Daisy was not a Catholic, and I was a little shocked at the elaborateness of the lie"; andthe history of the relationship between Myrtle and Tom - "suddenly her warm breath poured over me the story of her first meeting with Tom".
Nick also demonstrates his kindness toward others, helping the very drunk Mr. McKee into his bed in his apartment on a floor below Tom and Myrtle's apartment before he makes his way to the train station to await "the four o'clock train" back to West End.
Most of the events in this chapter play out in Tom's apartment in New York - where he and Myrtle had been, and were conducting their affair. We discover in this chapter that Nick had, at some point, been to Europe. When Catherine tells him that Tom and Myrtle are planning on "going west" after they had gotten married, Nick suggests:
"It’d be more discreet to go to Europe.”
Nick mentions later that:
"I wanted to get out and walk southward toward the park through the soft twilight, but each time I tried to go I became entangled in some wild, strident argument which pulled me back, as if with ropes, into my chair."
This clearly indicates that Nick found the situation at the apartment quite unpleasant and therefore wanted to leave, but found himself unwittingly being drawn into some frenzied discussion. This also suggests that Nick was inquisitive and intrigued by the characters in the apartment and the events unfolding around him. He honestly admits that:
"I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life."
This further suggests that Nick knows himself. He understands his shortcomings and his strengths and has the character to admit to them. Furthermore, he is somewhat of a snoop - not a gossip - and is intrigued by the complexity of human interaction.
We are also made aware of Nick's kindness, for when he sees Mr. McKee asleep on the chair he does the following:
"Taking out my handkerchief I wiped from his cheek the remains of the spot of dried lather that had worried me all the afternoon."
This is emphasized when he accompanies Mr. McKee to his apartment later and:
". . I was standing beside his bed and he was sitting up between the sheets, clad in his underwear, with a great portfolio in his hands."
Nick had helped put him to bed before he left in the early hours of the morning.
We’ve answered 318,912 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question