Book Tag, Day 2 | In Which I Snidely Sip on Boba Coffee Whilst Preparing to Defend Daisy Buchanan to the Death

As always, thank you to the lovely Danielle @ Life of a Literary Nerd for the tag!!

Today’s quote is about the defining novel of the Roaring Twenties, the epitome of English-class-worthy symbolism and metaphorical prose, the subject of the Leonardo-Di-Caprio-didn’t-get-an-Oscar-for-this-HAHA film adaption: The Great Gatsby.

If you’ve ever attended a high school English class in the US, you’ve probably read and annotated this to death.  (Literally, my book was made about two pounds heavier with all the sticky notes.) You’ve probably also written at least five different papers on the *exaggerated air quotes* DECLINE OF THE AMERICAN DREAM—bonus points if you mention materialism and the stratification of social classes!—which, I’m sure, was every teacher’s favorite essay topic.

Also, in case you haven’t already realized from the title, yes, I’m going to be THAT PERSON who snidely sits in the back of the classroom, disagreeing with everyone’s opinions whilst sipping on boba and wearing a fedora (just because).

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The Quote

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To be real, though, this is a subject I am startlingly and probably unnecessarily passionate about. At least in my English class, I quite literally felt like the only human being in the entire world who had so much as an inkling of empathy for poor Daisy. Which I get, because at the end of the novel—spoiler alert!—she isn’t exactly the most likable person ever.  She grows up cocooned in privilege, she chooses safety and security over possible romance, she leaves the pining Gatsby high and dry and is whisked off to lord-knows-where by Tom Buchanan. Then again, all of the characters are basically terrible people sooooo

BUT. But but but. First of all, we have to remember that the ENTIRE NOVEL is told from the POV of an extremely unreliable narrator, the self-professed rock of morality, Honesty-Is-One-Of-My-Defining-Qualities Nick. Who is inarguably biased in Gatsby’s favor.

And after reading over the book a couple of times, you can’t help but question Gatsby’s motivations. Is it really love? (Again, spoiler alert: It’s not.)

Gatsby was overwhelmingly aware of the youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves, of the freshness of many clothes and of Daisy, gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor. (8.157)

This quote, and others, are quite telling of what Daisy truly represents to Gatsby: an acquisition, perhaps even a conquest. He was infatuated by the idea of her, constructing an impossibly idealized vision of the “golden girl” who embodied all of the glittering wealth and comfort of the elite classes that lived “safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor“.

**Okay, I’m not even going to lie, I feel like in the 21st century, Gatsby’s antics would have gotten him a restraining order or something. What normal person buys a HOUSE to get close to an ex-lover?

Here’s another quote that made me raise my eyebrows, to say the least:

There was a ripe mystery about it, a hint of bedrooms upstairs more beautiful and cool than other bedrooms, of gay and radiant activities taking place through its corridors and of romances that were not musty and laid away already in lavender but fresh and breathing and redolent of this year’s shining motor cars and of dances whose flowers were scarcely withered. It excited him too that many men had already loved Daisy—it increased her value in his eyes(8.156)

You really have to stop and think about why Fitzgerald places such a heavy emphasis on Daisy’s wealth and purity when describing how Gatsby’s infatuation with her. Gatsby associates Daisy with “motor cars” and “dances” and “beautiful bedrooms”, all glamorous, upper-class characteristics that describe the sort of life Gatsby aspires to lead one day. (And he eventually does, but that “American Dream” is not complete without the presence/adoration of—you guessed it—little old Daisy.)

This is not to say I do not empathize with Gatsby at all. I do, definitely. He is an incredibly tragic, though justifiably flawed, figure—I just think of him trembling, embracing that just-out-of-reach green light, and I cry a little bit inside.

All in all, I want to point out that Daisy is deserving of empathy too. Think about it—she’s a woman living in the 1920s. And despite all of the flapper era/19th amendment/etc shenanigans going on at this time, you can’t deny that the 20th century wasn’t an overall amazing time for women’s rights. Just look at the nonsense that Tom Buchanan, resident villain of The Great Gatsby (and NO ONE CAN ARGUE WITH ME ON THIS) spouts about “family values” and “women running around”. I’m sure that what he said was generally representative of how a good majority of Americans viewed women’s roles in society. With this in mind, can you really blame Daisy for choosing safety and financial security over Gatsby’s questionable bootlegging activities?

poor lil Daisy ):

I have no idea how this tag turned into a full-fledged discussion on The Great Gatsby? My English teacher would be proud of me. What is my life. :”)

ALSO for a much more entertaining, much more thoughtful discussion of Daisy Buchanan’s merits, I strongly encourage you to scroll on over to Emma’s wonderful post describing why Daisy is the best character in The Great Gatsby, period! (I STILL distinctly remember reading her thinkpiece/review because yes, it is that good.)

IN CONCLUSION: I am ready and willing to defend Daisy Buchanan to the death. TRY ME, FOLKS.*

*just kidding plz don’t, i am a small, delicate and non-confrontational soul and will probably cry if you call me names

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I hereby tag: Ioana @ Dragon Waffles, Melanie @ Mel To The Any, and Lily @ Sprinkles of Dreams!  

let us chat

Have you read The Great Gatsby? What were your opinions of it—too prose-heavy, or perfectly representative of that era? Which character did you empathize the most with? Did you love or hate Daisy Buchanan? I’d love discussion!

lots of love,

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21 thoughts on “Book Tag, Day 2 | In Which I Snidely Sip on Boba Coffee Whilst Preparing to Defend Daisy Buchanan to the Death

  1. Love this post! It’s so true– I think the same things are discussed over and over and over again when it comes to this book. It’s so refreshing to hear some new ideas! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never liked Daisy (just as I have never really liked anyone in the book, except maybe Nick–sorry!), but I do feel sympathy for her. I think it’s that line where she hopes her daughter is a fool that really brings home to readers that she feels trapped. And that’s she’s maybe not quite as silly and stupid as they thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahh all of the characters definitely aren’t exactly the most likeable people :”) (understatement of the year!!)

      and that line deeply resonated with me—I think it was the moment where I really started empathizing with Daisy and seeing her as more than a frivolous socialite. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t read The Great Gatsby just yet, despite having it on my TBR since, well, forever, haha. I really enjoyed reading your post though and these quotes kind of made me curious about it all 🙂
    Lovely post! ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really love this post Hannah, and I love how passionate you are about Daisy and defending her character as well. I didn’t read The Great Gatsby in high school or anything but I did pick it up after I saw the film back when that was in the cinema (not sure how many years ago that was). To be honest I didn’t really find any of the characters ‘likeable’ I think they all had their faults and flaws and in that way Daisy was no worse than any other character, in fact I think her husband and Gatsby were worse than she was. I think what Gatsby forgets is that she has a family and a life with Tom, can he really not see why she may have been hesitant about leaving that life behind I mean, didn’t they have a daughter together? (Daisy and Tom I mean, not Daisy and Gatsby).
    Great post. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • ohmy, thank you so so much!! 💓💓you’re so lucky, this book honestly still brings memories of stress to my heart because I had to annotate the heck out of it for class :”’)

      and yep, basically all of the characters are pretty terrible people, but I found them so interesting to read about. and I couldn’t agree more—I found Tom and Gatsby to also be less likable than Daisy, considering her circumstances and her place in the world. ): we really can’t blame her for wanting stability in a tumultuous society, especially as a woman!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s all right, and yeah I know the feeling. There are books I had to annotate for class which bring me serious stress flashbacks.
        Daisy was pretty much a product of everything going on around her. She’s more of a passive character reacting to the actions of Tom and Gatsby (at least that’s how I saw it) so I’m not sure how she’s considered worse than them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • saaame. just in my opinion, annotating the book drained all the fun out of it :”) it just got so tedious having to stop at every page to paste a sticky note!!

        i think a lot of people wanted Daisy to end up with Gatsby because he loved her, but it honestly wasn’t that healthy of a relationship. Daisy was in a pretty bad place too—she was manipulated by Gatsby and taken advantage of by Tom. ):

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, and there’s only so often you can read a scene for hidden meaning before you become so bored of it.
        Yeah, but you don’t deserve someone just because you loved them, also I think Gatsby was more in love with the idea of Daisy rather than who she really was you know? I don’t know if he ever saw the real her.

        Liked by 1 person

      • i mean, i completely get that annotating is useful for gaining deeper meaning, but there’s a point where it’s all too much, ya know??

        YES YES YES. truer words have never been spoken. Gatsby valued Daisy only in terms of what she represented—he didn’t really love her, as a person. </3

        man i love discussing this, i can rant for hours HAHA

        Liked by 1 person

  5. OMG. I still remember what my high school English paper was for this book: not the “decline of the American dream” by “the importance of eyes in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work”. Weird English class.

    For whatever it’s worth, I don’t hate Daisy! I feel like most of the starring women in this novel were either physically or emotionally amused by their husbands, and while we would have liked Daisy to run off to a happily ever after, it’s not so black and white as that. Also, I see Daisy as a bit of a reflection on Zelda, and I love Zelda.

    That said, opinions are largely based on the film and Z if for Zelda Fitzgerald… I haven’t read The Great Gatsby since 11th grade and I think I need to read it again because I feel like I’d appreciate it more now. 😛

    This was a GREAT post, really well thought out, love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • i distinctly recall having to analyze that theme too!! more specifically, dr. tj eckleburg’s eyes :’) (annotations are so stressful argh.)

      yay i’m glad to hear that! i think it’s super easy to judge/dislike Daisy for her actions later on, but i like that Fitzgerald didn’t give them a happy ending.

      oooh i’ve heard that too! i need to do more research on Zelda though. there’s so many interesting stories about the novel—for instance, a lot of readers suspect that Nick was actually gay!!

      thank you soso much, it was super fun to write ❤ i'm glad i reread it after junior year because i appreciated his artistry more.

      Like

      • Thank goodness I’m not alone here! This is also why I only read series which are fully published (or the final book will be coming out shortly, so I can read them all in quick succession). I cannot stand the idea that I’m missing some subtle and awesome plot points because I’ve forgotten things! O_o

        Liked by 1 person

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