The Great Gatsby – Chapter Two

It’s all about…

I read chapter two last week and realized how many important details had melted away over the years since I last read The Great Gatsby. I’m no spoiler, but I kept returning to the thought that the entire chapter was all about a major character absent from the scenes in that chapter. What do you think of my odd proposition?

Early in the chapter I recognized a literary technique that I believe is best described asĀ anthropomorphism. Did you catch that and would you assign that term, or would it be personification?

Settings play an especially important role in this chapter, particularly the valley of ashes where tonight’s chapter begins. Contrast the descriptions of that location with the personalities present later at the party in Tom’s New York apartment and see if this prompts any thoughts.

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About Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas is a former active duty Marine, now a veteran teacher working in the Indianapolis, Indiana area. A professional writer in both print journalism and digital content writing, Mark combines his love of teaching history with his passion for the written word. His personal blog, History as Prologue,, reflects his deep interest and knowledge of how the past influences the present. Mark can be contacted at


The Great Gatsby – Chapter Two — 28 Comments

  1. Thank you all for your contributions tonight. I know we’ve gone past the designated end time, but the level of discussion seemed too wonderful to stick with that time.

    I hope you’ll take the time to continue with comments after this evening. Thursday night should be really fun as we cover Gatsby’s party. May I suggest we all begin the discussion with a handy high ball or martini?

  2. I’ve always thought that in some ways, Fitzgerald wants us to see that everyone is playing some kind of outlandish part, except perhaps Nick who seems to describe everything as though he’s watching a play and trying to figure out what it means. Tom is very theatrical with his physical posturing and his propelling Nick about the place when he decides it’s time to move to the next room. Jordan Baker is so affected and superior. Even Daisy is putting on a show with her alternating charm and cynicism, now and then playing up her rich attitude. He may want us to sympathize a bit with Daisy and think Tom’s a jerk, but he also wants us to know that we can’t believe what they tell us.

    • That is a good point about what we can believe or not. I guess I will have to see where the next chapter goes. It’s leading up to something that is for sure.

      • Yes, Tammy, everyone is not as they seem or would like other to see. Chapter 3 gives us our first good look at Gatsby, though during a gala Gatsby describes as “a little party.”

  3. Of course, this isn’t really dinner is it? It’s a drunken brawl of a party. What do you make of the closing scene in Chapter 2 between Nick and Mr. mcKee?

  4. The nonsensical conversation Daisy makes in the first chapters establishes her emotionally as a frail character for me. Has she already suffered violence from Tom’s hand at this point?

    • I don’t notice any evidence suggesting that Daisy has been physically abused, though the first chapter makes clear that she’s aware the Tom has “a woman in New York” as Jordan puts it. While there’s no question of Tom’s abominable behavior, I believe that Fitzgerald is setting us, the readers, up for a twist by building sympathy for Daisy.

  5. I am grieving over Tom’s violence and the blood on Myrtle’s cream chiffon dress. I think it was common in this era for polite society to “dress for dinner.” Anyone care to back me up on that?

    • Welcome, Crystal! I’m scurrying back to the scene to discover whether or not the other guests had “dressed” for dinner as well. Of course Nick would not have that opportunity, but I’m curious as to the others.

  6. I’ve always loved the image of the eyeglasses and the way everyone wants to impose their private business on Nick as if he should be vitally interested.

    • Nick is the perfect narrator. Valkyrie, were you aware of the connection between the cover art for the book and the image you just described?