The Great Gatsby

Characterize the "conversation" of the party at the apartment. What do people talk about? How do they talk about it ? Then what does this "talk" tell us about their characters?

Chapter two

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lewd, inappropriate, loud, obnoxious

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."

Clothing plays an important role in the development of character, and is reflective of both a character's mood and his or her personality. This device emphasizes the characters' superficiality. When Myrtle changes into a cream-colored dress, she loses some of her vitality. Like Daisy, she becomes more artificial; her laughter, gestures, and speech become violently affected.

This chapter explores a world that has collapsed into decadence: Fitzgerald's society is a society in decay. The only rationale that Myrtle gives for her affair with Tom is: "You can't live forever." Nick Carraway remains both "within and without" this world: though he is repulsed by the party's vulgarity, he is too fascinated to compel himself to leave. It becomes patently clear in this chapter that Tom is both a bully and a hypocrite: he carries on a highly public affair, but feels compelled to beat his mistress in order to keep her in her place. The fact that Tom feels no guilt about his violence toward Myrtle (indeed, he seems incapable of feeling guilt at all) becomes pivotal in later chapters.