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chapter one
chapter two
chapter three
chapter four
chapter five
chapter six
chapter seven
chapter eight
chapter nine

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The Great Gatsby Guide

chapter two

Nick and Tom are traveling together to the city by train. When they get to the valley of ashes, Tom insists on taking Nick to meet his mistress, Myrtle. Nick has no interest in meeting her, but goes anyway. When they get to the garage, George Wilson greets them. George and his wife, Myrtle, live above the service garage that they own. George inquires as to when Tom will be bringing in his car to sell. Tom has no real intention of selling George the car, but uses this as a device to visit Myrtle. Tom treats George with contempt. Myrtle is introduced and shown to be a woman who is very concerned with outward appearances. She is also looking to escape into the world of the upper class.

Nick, despite wanting to go off on his own, spends the day with Tom and Myrtle. On the way to the apartment that Tom keeps for Myrtle, Tom buys her a dog. They proceed to spend the rest of the evening in the apartment. A few friends are called, and a small party is started. Myrtle's sister, Catherine, is there. Nick becomes drunk for the second time in his life. One of the guests tells Nick that he was at a party at Gatsby’s house. Around midnight, Tom and Myrtle start to quarrel. Tom insists that she have no right to speak his wife’s name. Myrtle disagrees and repeat’s Daisy’s name several times until Tom strikes her, breaking her nose. One suspects that Tom does so not to defend Daisy’s honor, but simply to showcase his brutality and hypocrisy. This action also foreshadows what will happen later to Gatsby as he tries to cross Tom. This brings the party to a close. Nick leaves and catches a train home.

Nick is surprised at how openly Tom displays his mistress.

This chapter introduces us to the valley of ashes. This valley represents the modern world. The poor populate the area; those who might be seen as the victims of the upper class people, who live in the Eggs and New York City. This valley is the dumping ground of the city's ashes, just as its inhabitants are dumped upon by the rich. This is a heavily polluted and industrialized wasteland. It has been polluted and poisoned by the waste that is produced by the modern world in the manufacture of wealth. It represents the spiritual desolation of modern society. It is the “foul dustEof the valley of ashes that eventually destroys Gatsby’s dream.

Overlooking the valley of ashes are the gigantic eyes of Doctor T J. Eckleburg. The eyes are all that remains of an old billboard put up by an oculist to make money. George Wilson identifies the eyes with God. The eyes are sightless and unblinking as they overlook an area that is being destroyed by man. The creator of the billboard has either forgotten or abandoned it, suggesting a God who no longer looks down upon or cares for the people of this valley.