In chapter 2, the story develops with an introduction to the Wilsons, where Fitzgerald tells that Tom Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson are having an affair. The story then moves on with Nick, Tom and Myrtle meeting in New York. The chapter then appears to end after a lot of drinking which takes up the majority of the dialogue, with Tom slapping Myrtle in the face.
Fitzgerald uses chapter 2 to tell the story through the use of an extended metaphor. The chapter starts with a detailed description of “a valley of ashes”. This descriptive beginning is used as a comparison to the relationship of Myrtle and George Wilson. “ash-grey men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air” creates a mood of hopelessness, bleakness and blandness, which is similar to what the lives of Myrtle and George seem to be. Fitzgerald’s use of the valley of ashes can also be seen as a contrast between those who live in this area, and those who live at West Egg, as they live extravagant and elite lives. The use of this extended metaphor means that there is a clear demonstration of just how far apart in the world Tom Buchanan and Myrtle are. This comparison based on hopelessness also seems to give reason for Myrtle’s infidelity, as the reader understands why she would want to get away from the bleakness and blandness of the life with George Wilson.
Another tool Fitzgerald uses to tell the story in chapter 2 is narrative perspective. At the beginning of the chapter, it’s told that although he “was curious to see her” he “had no desire to meet her”. This shows that although Nick was somewhat interested in meeting her, he was in fact forced to the meeting and perhaps therefore had expectations or thoughts that were biased because of the fact that Tom Buchanan was cheating on Nick’s relation. In this chapter, Fitzgerald uses Nick to give descriptions of characters to shape the reader’s perspective. For example, when talking about Myrtle he describes her as “faintly stout, but she carried her flesh sensuously, as some women can”. This can be understood as Nick’s opinion, and it might be that because he’s expecting Tom’s mistress to be something extravagant and desired, he attempts to see her that way, but in fact he learns that a mistress isn’t something great and wonderful, it’s in fact a bleak experience. Through this Nick Carraway makes the reader pity the characters that are having the affair rather than making them appear as unfaithful.
Further into the chapter, Fitzgerald uses dialogue to tell the story. Particularly, Tom Buchanan is presented as being powerful through dialogue, as he is forceful, which can be seen through him saying to Nick “we’re getting off”, which suggests that he knows that Nick is going to get off even though Tom has no real power over Tom. Another way that Tom’s power is presented, is through dialogue which shows his wealth. When Myrtle declarers that she would like a dog, Tom says “here’s your money. Go and buy ten more dogs with it”, which shows the power that he has not only in the way he addresses people, but financially, which might have been what attracted Myrtle to him. Another way in which dialogue is used in this chapter is to fill in background of Gatsby. They discuss his wealth, and “they say that he’s a nephew or cousin of Kaiser Wilhelm’s”, who was a German leader, which already adds negative connotations to Gatsby’s name as this relation would not have been something that Americans would have been happy about at the time. Furthermore, in chapter 2, Catherine, Myrtle’s sister is used by Fitzgerald to give information and insight into relationships and characters. For instance, when talking about Daisy and Tom’s marriage and Myrtle being his mistress, she says that “it’s really his wife that’s keeping them apart.…