You may think that you’ve got all the characters from The Great Gatsby memorized by heart— Gatsby, Daisy and Tom, Nick and Jordan, even Myrtle and George, but do you remember Catherine?
Catherine is Myrtle Wilson’s younger sister. That would make her the sister-in-law to Myrtle’s husband, George.
What is Catherine’s relationship to Jay Gatsby? Is she close to Myrtle? Is Catherine rich in The Great Gatsby? Is she more “old money” folks, and where does she live?
Find out everything you need to know about Catherine from The Great Gatsby.
Is Catherine a Major Character in The Great Gatsby?
No, Catherine is an easily forgettable minor character, but she plays an important role in this novel.
She lives in New York City, which makes it fairly easy for Myrtle to get on the train that passes through the Valley of Ashes where she lives and visit her sister frequently.
Myrtle Wilson and Catherine are quite close and have no problem lying and covering for one another.
Nick Carraway meets Catherine when Tom Buchanan takes him to the apartment in New York where Tom has his trysts with Myrtle.
How Is Catherine Described in the Novel?
In Chapter 2, Nick meets Catherine at the apartment in New York, where he describes her as “a slender, worldly girl of about thirty”.
Her hair is styled in a red bob, wears lots of makeup, and her skin is quite pale. She wears elaborate bracelets and is said to have her eyebrows drawn in place.
Catherine is more independent than her sister, Myrtle Wilson. She hasn’t married and doesn’t appear to be interested in having any sort of love life, but she is very interested in parties and having her sister marry a wealthy man.
What Does Catherine Tell Nick about Gatsby?
Nick has yet to officially meet Gatsby, so he’s intrigued by the rumors about him.
When Nick mentions that Gatsby is his neighbor, Catherine tells him she has heard that Gatsby is the nephew or cousin of Kaiser Wilhelm, the ruler of Germany during World War I.
Nick isn’t sure what to think about that statement, but he does wonder if there is any truth to this rumor.
Why Is Catherine Important in The Great Gatsby?
Without her sister, Myrtle would have had a very difficult time having an affair with Tom Buchanan.
Myrtle’s husband, George, is a mechanic who has a repair shop downstairs and a gas station out in front. The couple live in the apartment upstairs.
Since George can see Myrtle coming and going, as well as everyone who enters the shop or the apartment, it would be impossible not to see Tom there in the Valley of Ashes ( read more on what is the valley of ashes in The Great Gatsby ).
Myrtle might be able to make some excuses on occasion for needing to go to New York to purchase something, but frequent trips would arouse suspicion.
With Catherine living in New York, Myrtle has the perfect alibi to travel there as often as she likes, even staying overnight if she wanted to. George would be none the wiser.
After Myrtle is killed, Catherine still covers for her.
In Chapter 8 ( read The Great Gatsby Chapter 8 Quotes ), people begin to tell the police their story about what they saw the night Myrtle was killed.
Some people were saying that Myrtle ran out to the car, as if she knew the driver and hoped that they would stop for her.
When the police question Catherine, however, she swears that Myrtle had been perfectly happy with her husband, she hadn’t been seeing another man, and that Myrtle didn’t know Gatsby, if that was his car ( read more on cars in the 1920s ), so she couldn’t have been trying to get him to stop.
George already knows that Myrtle had been seeing someone else, he just didn’t know who. Catherine’s lie only confirms to George what he suspected, that Gatsby was Myrtle’s lover.
It is Tom Buchanan who tells George where Gatsby lives, sealing Gatsby’s fate, but it’s probably Catherine’s lie that is the match that lights the fuel in George’s hurting heart.
Who Plays Catherine in the 2013 Movie Version of The Great Gatsby?
Adelaide Clemens plays Catherine in Baz Luhrmann’s movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby. She was fresh from another period drama movie when offered the flapper role, so she was excited, to say the least.
In a magazine interview, she said that working with Luhrmann and DiCaprio was both a shock and a dream-come-true for her, adding that her all-time favorite movie has always been Romeo and Juliet, the Luhrmann’s movie version, which also starred DiCaprio.
Catherine represents the modern flapper girl from the times that F. Scott Fitzgerald was living in.
While Catherine doesn’t appear to be interested in getting married herself, she probably sees a great many benefits to having a sister who would be married to a man of wealth.
Catherine wants her sister to divorce George and marry Tom as soon as possible. Most likely this is because Catherine is sure that her wealthy sister will share her good fortune with her.
Perhaps Catherine also believes that if Myrtle marries a rich man like Tom Buchanan, she might also land a wealthy husband.
We don’t get too much information about Catherine, such as what she does for a living, but we do know that she was very close to her sister, lying through her teeth to protect her sister’s reputation, even after Myrtle was dead and had no real reputation at stake.
Written by Kerry Wisby – GatsbyFlapperGirl.com
Owner & Founder of GatsbyFlapperGirl.com
Kerry Wisby, a former teacher with a BA in English, is the founder of GatsbyFlapperGirl.com. With a passion for all things 1920s, including The Great Gatsby novel, her website is the ultimate source for Roaring Twenties fashion, history, and party ideas. Read more about Kerry here.