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In Chapter 1 of The Great Gatsby, why does Nick feel "confused and a little disgusted"...

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kir-253 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 3, 2009 at 12:28 AM via web

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In Chapter 1 of The Great Gatsby, why does Nick feel "confused and a little disgusted" after he leaves Daisy's house?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 3, 2009 at 1:35 AM (Answer #1)

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While Nick is having dinner with Tom, Daisy, and Jordan Baker at the Buchanans' home, they are interrupted by a telephone call that Tom takes privately. Daisy suddenly leaves the table, too, and Nick can hear them talking in "[a] subdued impassioned murmur." Jordan explains the situation to Nick: "Tom's got some woman in New York . . . . She might have the decency not to telephone him at dinner-time." It takes Nick a moment to realize what Jordan is telling him, that Tom is having an extra-marital affair. From her reaction, Daisy clearly knows what's going on. The telephone rings again, but Daisy sends Tom a clear signal not to answer it and an uncomfortable silence ensues. When they are alone, Daisy tells Nick how unhappy she is, without mentioning specifically what has just happened. The evening then continues, as if nothing unusual had occurred.

Nick leaves the Buchanans feeling "confused and a little disgusted." He is shocked by Tom's behavior, but he is also shocked and confused by Daisy's reaction to Tom's infidelity: "It seemed to me that the thing for Daisy to do was to rush out of the house child in arms--but apparently there were no such intentions in her head." This encounter is Nick's first exposure to the immorality and amorality that he will observe in the East throughout that summer, behavior that is very much at odds with his Midwestern upbringing.

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