F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby

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The Great Gatsby Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 2 Summary

At the chapter’s start, Nick describes the midpoint between East and West Egg, where the railroad runs alongside the road for a stretch. This area Nick calls a “valley of ashes.” It’s an area where ashes from factories are dumped, leading to an ugly wasteland.

Over the ash dump, an old optometrist’s billboard, advertising Dr. T. J. Eckleburg, features a pair of absurd faceless eyes and glasses that look out at those pass by.

The train stop near the dump, overlooked by the Eckleburg billboard, turns out to be the place of residence of Tom’s mistress, Myrtle. Myrtle’s husband, Mr. Wilson, owns an unsuccessful auto repair and sales shop. As the action of the chapter begins, Tom interrupts a weekend train ride to the city, dragging Nick off in order, as he explains, to meet his Myrtle, his “girl.”

After a superficial conversation at the garage/home of Mr. Wilson about a car Tom apparently intends to sell him, Myrtle and Tom manage to communicate to the effect that they will meet at the station. To Nick’s surprise, Myrtle is unattractive.

After everyone leaves Mr. Wilson behind, the three ride to New York City. On the way they buy a puppy, at a whim of Myrtle’s. The rest of the chapter details a small, alcohol-fueled party at an apartment that Tom has apparently rented to host their ongoing affair. The party features her sister, Catherine, along with some neighbors from the building, the McKees. Mr. McKee is an untalented photographer.

A horrible moment comes when Myrtle decides to mention Daisy’s name. Repeating “Daisy” despite Tom’s anger, Myrtle is struck hard in the nose by him and bleeds badly.

Nick, who informs us that this is the second of two times in his life he has been “drunk,” leaves with Mr. McKee during the chaos of attending to Myrtle’s injury. Nick blacks out, and when he regains awareness he is standing at Mr. McKee’s bedside, being shown some poorly done photographs. He manages to leave, and the chapter ends with him waiting in the station for the 4am train home.

Chapter 2: Analysis

As in Chapter 1,…

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