Chapter 7-9: Myrtle’s Death
Aim: In this 30-minute lesson, you will go over the part 7-9 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.
The “death car” as the newspapers called it, didn’t stop; it came out of the gathering darkness, wavered tragically for a moment and then disappeared around the next bend. Michaelis wasn’t even sure of its color–he told the first policeman that it was light green. The other car, the one going toward New York, came to rest a hundred yards beyond, and its driver hurried back to where Myrtle Wilson, her life violently extinguished, knelt in the road and mingled her thick, dark blood with the dust.
Why did Myrtle ‘rushed out… waving her hands’ to the car?
Michaelis and this man reached her first but when they had torn open her shirtwaist still damp with perspiration, they saw that her left breast was swinging loose like a flap and there was no need to listen for the heart beneath. The mouth was wide open and ripped at the corners as though she had choked a little in giving up the tremendous vitality she had stored so long.
We saw the three or four automobiles and the crowd when we were still some distance away.
“Wreck!” said Tom. “That’s good. Wilson’ll have a little business at last.”
What’s ironic about Tom’s comment?
“We’ll take a look,” he said doubtfully, “just a look.”
I became aware now of a hollow, wailing sound which issued incessantly from the garage, a sound which as we got out of the coupe and walked toward the door resolved itself into the words “Oh, my God!” uttered over and over in a gasping moan.
“There’s some bad trouble here,” said Tom excitedly. He reached up on tiptoes and peered over a circle of heads into the garage which was lit only by a yellow light in a swinging wire basket overhead. Then he made a harsh sound in his throat and with a violent thrusting movement of his powerful arms pushed his way through.
Describe Tom’s reaction to the ‘bad trouble’. Why does he seem excited?
The circle closed up again with a running murmur of expostulation; it was a minute before I could see anything at all. Then new arrivals disarranged the line and Jordan and I were pushed suddenly inside.
Myrtle Wilson’s body wrapped in a blanket and then in another blanket as though she suffered from a chill in the hot night lay on a work table by the wall and Tom, with his back to us, was bending over it, motionless. Next to him stood a motorcycle policeman taking down names with much sweat and correction in a little book. At first I couldn’t find the source of the high, groaning words that echoed clamorously through the bare garage–then I saw Wilson standing on the raised threshold of his office, swaying back and forth and holding to the doorposts with both hands. Some man was talking to him in a low voice and attempting from time to time to lay a hand on his shoulder, but Wilson neither heard nor saw. His eyes would drop slowly from the swinging light to the laden table by the wall and then jerk back to the light again and he gave out incessantly his high horrible call.
Describe Wilson’s posture. What does it imply about his struggling and trembling as a person from Valley of Ashes?
“O, my Ga-od! O, my Ga-od! Oh, Ga-od! Oh, my Ga-od!”
Presently Tom lifted his head with a jerk and after staring around the garage with glazed eyes addressed a mumbled incoherent remark to the policeman.
“M-a-v–” the policeman was saying, “–o—-“
“No,–r–” corrected the man, “M-a-v-r-o—-“
“Listen to me!” muttered Tom fiercely.
“r–” said the policeman, “o—-“
“g–” He looked up as Tom’s broad hand fell sharply on his shoulder.
“What you want, fella?”
“What happened–that’s what I want to know!”
“Auto hit her. Ins’antly killed.”
“Instantly killed,” repeated Tom, staring.
“She ran out ina road. Son-of-a-bitch didn’t even stopus car.”
“There was two cars,” said Michaelis, “one comin’, one goin’, see?”
“Going where?” asked the policeman keenly.
“One goin’ each way. Well, she–” His hand rose toward the blankets but stopped half way and fell to his side, “–she ran out there an’ the one comin’ from N’York knock right into her goin’ thirty or forty miles an hour.”
“What’s the name of this place here?” demanded the officer.
“Hasn’t got any name.”
A pale, well-dressed Negro stepped near.
“It was a yellow car,” he said, “big yellow car. New.”
“See the accident?” asked the policeman.
“No, but the car passed me down the road, going faster’n forty. Going fifty, sixty.”
“Come here and let’s have your name. Look out now. I want to get his name.”
What new information do we learn about the accident?
- Describe Myrtle’s death. How do different people react to her death?
- What is ironic about Myrtle’s death and Tom’s comments before he realizes it was Myrtle who died?
- “Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.” – Charlie Chaplin. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? 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.