The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

How does the mood change as the scene changes from the valley to the apartment party?

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The novel's only non-wealthy characters live in the valley of ashes; it is the grim underside to the hedonism of the Eggs, and of New York City. George Wilson, Myrtle's dejected husband, seems almost made of ashes: "ashen dust" coats his clothes and his hair. Fitzgerald represents poverty as lying beneath wealth and providing the wealthy with a dumping ground. It is what the wealthy wish to avoid seeing at all costs.

At Tom's party, the characters engage in vulgar, boorish behavior: Myrtle Wilson reads tabloids; she and her sister gossip viciously about Gatsby and each other; Mr. McKee does not say that he is an artist, but instead claims to be in the "artistic game." The group becomes exceedingly drunk; as a result, Myrtle begins to grow garrulous and harsh. Shortly after Tom gives her a puppy as a gift, Myrtle begins chanting Daisy's name to irritate Tom. Tom tells her that she has no right to say Daisy's name; she continues taunting him, and he responds by breaking Myrtle's nose.