Study Guide

The Great Gatsby Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

  • Nick describes the land that lies in between the Eggs and New York as a "valley of ashes" (2.1), which sounds really unpleasant.
  • Above this dead land—er, "Waste Land," perhaps?—are the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg, or rather, a billboard that features the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg.
  • No, it's not socialite graffiti, just an advertisement for an eye doctor. But we get the feeling it's meaningful.
  • In case you're interested in colors (and in this book, we recommend it), the eyes are blue and the spectacles yellow.
  • Anyway, the whole reason we hear about these ashes and eyes is that Nick is traveling to the city with Tom, who insists on stopping to show Nick his mistress.
  • We love show and tell!
  • The mistress is the wife of an auto mechanic named George B. Wilson – at least, that's the name on the front of his repair shop.

great gatsby chapter 2 summary(Click the summary infographic to download.)

  • Tom acts like a jerk towards the husband (who is doing some sort of car work for him) and then sends the wife (Myrtle) a not-so-covert message to come with him to the city.
  • George (Myrtle's husband) is blissfully ignorant. He thinks Myrtle just goes to the city to visit her sister.
  • On the train on the way to the city, Myrtle wants a puppy.
  • So Tom buys her a puppy. Obviously.
  • This whole situation is so wrong that Nick tries to jump ship. But the happy couple doesn't let him.
  • In the city, they head to the adulterous sex apartment and meet up with others, including a Mr. McKee and Myrtle's sister, Catherine.
  • They drink a lot of Tom's whiskey, and Nick gets drunk for the second time in his life.
  • When Nick reveals that he lives in West Egg, one of the drunken revelers goes on and on about the fabulous parties that this guy Gatsby throws.
  • Myrtle's sister whispers to Nick that Myrtle and Tom both hate their spouses. So, apparently, Tom has told Myrtle some lies to string her along without having to divorce Daisy.
  • There is some discussion of not marrying below your social caste, which apparently Myrtle did.
  • Tom tells Myrtle to stop saying Daisy's name.
  • Myrtle, of course, says "Daisy, Daisy, Daisy."
  • ... and then Tom breaks her nose.
  • Nick gets too drunk to remember how he got into bed.

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