Chapter 2-2: The Party
Aim: In this 30-minute lesson, you will go over the part 2-2 of the book. Go over comprehension questions after each paragraph, and practice using new expressions.
After saying hello, read the following part of the book out loud with the tutor.
She had changed her dress to a brown figured muslin which stretched tight over her rather wide hips as Tom helped her to the platform in New York. At the news-stand she bought a copy of “Town Tattle” and a moving-picture magazine and, in the station drug store, some cold cream and a small flask of perfume. Upstairs, in the solemn echoing drive she let four taxi cabs drive away before she selected a new one, lavender-colored with grey upholstery, and in this we slid out from the mass of the station into the glowing sunshine. But immediately she turned sharply from the window and leaning forward tapped on the front glass.
“I want to get one of those dogs,” she said earnestly. “I want to get one for the apartment. They’re nice to have–a dog.”
We backed up to a grey old man who bore an absurd resemblance to John D. Rockefeller. In a basket, swung from his neck, cowered a dozen very recent puppies of an indeterminate breed.
“What kind are they?” asked Mrs. Wilson eagerly as he came to the taxi-window.
“All kinds. What kind do you want, lady?”
“I’d like to get one of those police dogs; I don’t suppose you got that kind?”
The man peered doubtfully into the basket, plunged in his hand and drew one up, wriggling, by the back of the neck.
“That’s no police dog,” said Tom.
“No, it’s not exactly a police dog,” said the man with disappointment in his voice. “It’s more of an airedale.” He passed his hand over the brown wash-rag of a back. “Look at that coat. Some coat. That’s a dog that’ll never bother you with catching cold.”
“I think it’s cute,” said Mrs. Wilson enthusiastically. “How much is it?”
“That dog?” He looked at it admiringly. “That dog will cost you ten dollars.”
The airedale–undoubtedly there was an airedale concerned in it somewhere though its feet were startlingly white–changed hands and settled down into Mrs. Wilson’s lap, where she fondled the weather-proof coat with rapture.
“Is it a boy or a girl?” she asked delicately.
“That dog? That dog’s a boy.”
“It’s a bitch,” said Tom decisively. “Here’s your money. Go and buy ten more dogs with it.”
Why did Myrtle wanted to get a puppy? Were Myrtle and Tom thoughtful about adopting a puppy?
We drove over to Fifth Avenue, so warm and soft, almost pastoral, on the summer Sunday afternoon that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a great flock of white sheep turn the corner.
“Hold on,” I said, “I have to leave you here.”
“No, you don’t,” interposed Tom quickly. “Myrtle’ll be hurt if you don’t come up to the apartment. Won’t you, Myrtle?”
“Come on,” she urged. “I’ll telephone my sister Catherine. She’s said to be very beautiful by people who ought to know.”
“Well, I’d like to, but—-“
We went on, cutting back again over the Park toward the West Hundreds. At 158th Street the cab stopped at one slice in a long white cake of apartment houses. Throwing a regal homecoming glance around the neighborhood, Mrs. Wilson gathered up her dog and her other purchases and went haughtily in.
“I’m going to have the McKees come up,” she announced as we rose in the elevator. “And of course I got to call up my sister, too.”
The apartment was on the top floor–a small living room, a small dining room, a small bedroom and a bath. The living room was crowded to the doors with a set of tapestried furniture entirely too large for it so that to move about was to stumble continually over scenes of ladies swinging in the gardens of Versailles. The only picture was an over-enlarged photograph, apparently a hen sitting on a blurred rock. Looked at from a distance however the hen resolved itself into a bonnet and the countenance of a stout old lady beamed down into the room. Several old copies of “Town Tattle “lay on the table together with a copy of “Simon Called Peter” and some of the small scandal magazines of Broadway. Mrs. Wilson was first concerned with the dog. A reluctant elevator boy went for a box full of straw and some milk to which he added on his own initiative a tin of large hard dog biscuits–one of which decomposed apathetically in the saucer of milk all afternoon. Meanwhile Tom brought out a bottle of whiskey from a locked bureau door.
Describe the apartment. What does it symbolize?
I have been drunk just twice in my life and the second time was that afternoon so everything that happened has a dim hazy cast over it although until after eight o’clock the apartment was full of cheerful sun. Sitting on Tom’s lap Mrs. Wilson called up several people on the telephone; then there were no cigarettes and I went out to buy some at the drug store on the corner. When I came back they had disappeared so I sat down discreetly in the living room and read a chapter of “Simon Called Peter”–either it was terrible stuff or the whiskey distorted things because it didn’t make any sense to me.
Just as Tom and Myrtle–after the first drink Mrs. Wilson and I called each other by our first names–reappeared, company commenced to arrive at the apartment door. The sister, Catherine, was a slender, worldly girl of about thirty with a solid sticky bob of red hair and a complexion powdered milky white. Her eyebrows had been plucked and then drawn on again at a more rakish angle but the efforts of nature toward the restoration of the old alignment gave a blurred air to her face. When she moved about there was an incessant clicking as innumerable pottery bracelets jingled up and down upon her arms. She came in with such a proprietary haste and looked around so possessively at the furniture that I wondered if she lived here. But when I asked her she laughed immoderately, repeated my question aloud and told me she lived with a girl friend at a hotel.
Describe Catherine. What odd things did Nick notice about her?
Mr. McKee was a pale feminine man from the flat below. He had just shaved for there was a white spot of lather on his cheekbone and he was most respectful in his greeting to everyone in the room. He informed me that he was in the “artistic game” and I gathered later that he was a photographer and had made the dim enlargement of Mrs. Wilson’s mother which hovered like an ectoplasm on the wall. His wife was shrill, languid, handsome and horrible. She told me with pride that her husband had photographed her a hundred and twenty-seven times since they had been married.
Describe the McKees. How does Nick feel about them?
Mrs. Wilson had changed her costume some time before and was now attired in an elaborate afternoon dress of cream colored chiffon, which gave out a continual rustle as she swept about the room. With the influence of the dress her personality had also undergone a change. The intense vitality that had been so remarkable in the garage was converted into impressive hauteur. Her laughter, her gestures, her assertions became more violently affected moment by moment and as she expanded the room grew smaller around her until she seemed to be revolving on a noisy, creaking pivot through the smoky air.
“My dear,” she told her sister in a high mincing shout, “most of these fellas will cheat you every time. All they think of is money. I had a woman up here last week to look at my feet and when she gave me the bill you’d of thought she had my appendicitis out.”
“What was the name of the woman?” asked Mrs. McKee.
“Mrs. Eberhardt. She goes around looking at people’s feet in their own homes.”
“I like your dress,” remarked Mrs. McKee, “I think it’s adorable.”
Mrs. Wilson rejected the compliment by raising her eyebrow in disdain.
“It’s just a crazy old thing,” she said. “I just slip it on sometimes when I don’t care what I look like.”
“But it looks wonderful on you, if you know what I mean,” pursued Mrs. McKee. “If Chester could only get you in that pose I think he could make something of it.”
Based on the conversation, describe the mood of the party.
- Elaborate the symbolism of the puppy that Myrtle adopts.
- Describe the party at Tom’s apartment in three words. If you were to replace the setting (New York) with the city you live in, how would you describe Tom’s party?
- What kind of people are Myrtle and her friends? Why do you think they become who they are? Share your thoughts with your Cambly tutor!
Do you understand the following words and expressions? Practice using the new words or expressions with the Cambly tutor.