In the second chapter of The Great Gatsby, we learn about the place located halfway between the West Egg and the city. It is a valley, full of smoke and ashes, which appears to be the New York’s dump. This place represents the extreme poverty, which creates a striking contrast to the wealthy districts depicted in a previous chapter.
Here we also come across another key symbol of the story. It is a huge billboard overlooking the valley. There we see a pair of eyes wearing glasses and indifferently observing the valley.
One day Nick and Tom take the train to the city, but in the middle of the valley of ashes, Tom makes Nick follow him out of the train. They come to the garage of a man, called George Wilson. Tom starts talking to him about some kind of business, but that is done more for a distraction. We find out that Tom is here to find Myrtle, Wilson’s wife. She is the woman he has affair with. Tom takes a second to talk to Myrtle and tells her to get on the train with him. She agrees, so Nick, Tom, and Myrtle take the next train to New York City.
The company arrives in a tiny kitschy apartment furnished with a poor taste. That’s the place Tom rents for his affair with Myrtle. They start a vicious party with Myrtle’s sister, Catherine, who tries to seduce Nick. Tom and Myrtle disappear in the other room and after a while, Nick hears them having wild sex in there. He is filled with disgust and wants to leave. But Tom suddenly goes out of the room and makes Nick stay. We see another couple arriving at the party, that’s the McKee family, who lives downstairs. They all start drinking and dancing. Nick gets really drunk, and, as he states, this happens for the second time in his life. Meanwhile, Catherine finds out that Nick happens to be Gatsby’s neighbor, and retells him several rumors about Jay Gatsby. She says, he was either a cousin or a nephew of Kaiser Wilhelm, who was a commander of Germany while World War I.
Nick suddenly finds himself thinking about New York, and he finally seems to like the city. This thought is interrupted by a huge scandal in the room. Myrtle started talking about Daisy, Tom’s wife. He yells at her, tells her to shut up and never dare to talk about his wife. She keeps screaming and says, she will always talk about whatever she wants. Tom grows vicious and breaks Myrtle’s nose. The party stops here. Nick leaves the apartment, already drunk, but he keeps drinking with Mr. McKee. After a while, he takes a train back to the West Egg.