Shortly into chapter two, Fitzgerald introduces George Wilson, an owner of an auto shop in the Valley of Ashes. As soon as George is introduced, every description of him and his surroundings paints a bleak, lifeless picture. ‘The interior was unprocessed and bare; the only car visible was the dust-covered wreck of a Ford which crouched in a dim George is also described as a “spiritless man”. Diction containing words such as unprocessed, dim, and spiritless is used to convey the depressing and dull DOD of George’s life.
Fitzgerald highlighting the bleakness that epitomizes George’s life is essential to the readers understanding of his relationship with his wife, and how this relationship fits into the rest of the novel. George’s submissive relationship with his wife Myrtle is also on full display in this chapter. “She smiled slowly and, walking through her husband as if he were a ghost, shook hands with Tom, looking him flush in the eye… ” Fitzgerald).
This simile where Myrtle ignores George as if he is a ghost shows the lack of love and respect that she has for him. The juxtaposition of the characterizations of George and Myrtle, as well as the placement of Tom’s disrespect for George emphasizes the dominance of the rich over the poor. When George brings up the car that Tom is late to sell to him, Tom shoots him down by saying he may not even sell him the car if George speaks to him like that.
Both Myrtle and Tom are establishing dominance over George through Tom’s wealthy status, Myrtle doing so through her connections with Tom. George’s poor status and lack of wealthy connections makes him a target to this disrespect. This early instance of class and wealth determining how social interaction occurs is one of many that occur in the novel. By introducing this trend early, Fitzgerald makes it clear to the reader what relationships will be based on in later events.