Chapter 2 In chapter two of The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald uses many methods of narrative. In this essay I will analyse three: Character, Setting and Voice each in detail. In the opening sentence of chapter 2, Fitzgerald uses imagery to create a setting of almost like a limbo with never-ending roads and barren land. This theme continues throughout the first setting in the chapter. “This is the valley of ashes-a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges” Fitzgerald uses the word ‘ashes’ twice which re-inforces how dead and desolate the ‘valley of ashes’ is.
Secondly, Fitzgerald uses an oxymoron with the connotations of ‘ash’ and ‘wheat’: death and life. This is like a microcosm of the fact that many people (in the book) came to New York to achieve ‘The American Dream’ and many failed. However, it could also represent Gatsby and how there are hints in the book that he came from nothing but has worked his way to the top. In chapter 2, Fitzgerald introduces a few new characters to the reader. The character that stood out most for me was Myrtle. Myrtle is Toms mistress and is characterized as the complete opposite as Daisy.
She is described with a ‘thickish figure’, ‘sensuously’ and ‘smouldering’, whereas Daisy is slender, kind and loving. Further on in the scene, Myrtle changes her outfit quite often. “Mrs Wilson had changed her costume” The word ‘costume’ suggests that Myrtle is just playing a part in her own fairytale with Tom. It is ironic because the reader later learns that Tom has no interest in Myrtle apart from her being a distraction. Also, the quality of her dresses as we read deeper into the scene become more and more rich as the first dress is described as ‘crepe-de-chine’, the second is ‘muslim’ and the final dress is ‘chiffon’.
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She changes her ‘costume’ to give people the impression that she is wealthy because it is the life that she wants to live. Lastly, the use of ‘Mrs Wilson’ instead of Myrtle infers that is more important than when she was with her husband and it also underlines the fact that she is married. Fitzgerald uses the change of structure in the narrative voice to portray the state of Nick. “I have only been drunk twice in my life and the second was that afternoon” We already know from chapter 1 that Nick is apologetic and likes to think he is honest. Therefore it is almost like he is apologising for what is about to come.
This is most likely to be because alcohol was illegal then and he is obviously embarrassed by his state. Later on in the scene, the narrative voice then changes to a more drunken state for example, he rants and uses repetition of ‘then’. Later on, as the evening progresses Nick wipes off “a spot of dried lather that had worried me all afternoon” from Mr McKee’s cheek. If Nick was sober he would not have done this but obviously feels the need to due to the alcohol. Lastly, the whole scene is told in a strange order and it seems like he is looking back and piecing it all together.
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