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Could you please tell me the meaning of "holding down the receiver" in this excerpt...

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coutelle | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted April 4, 2013 at 5:08 PM via web

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Could you please tell me the meaning of "holding down the receiver" in this excerpt of The Great Gatsby, chapter 7?

“The rumor is,” whispered Jordan, “that that’s Tom’s girl on the telephone.”

We were silent. The voice in the hall rose high with annoyance. “Very well, then, I won’t sell you the car at all.... I’m under no obligations to you at all... and as for your bothering me about it at lunch time I won’t stand that at all!”

Holding down the receiver,” said Daisy cynically.

“No, he’s not,” I assured her. “It’s a bona fide deal. I happen to know about it.”

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 4, 2013 at 5:21 PM (Answer #1)

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Daisy is suggesting that Tom is not speaking into the phone but is instead speaking for the benefit of Daisy, Jordan and Nick. She implies that he wants them to believe that he is talking about selling a car, though this line of conversation is make-believe. She thinks that Tom is faking the story of the car to cover for a "real conversation" with his mistress. 

The receiver here is the telephone receiver - the portion of the phone that one speaks into. 

Nick knows that Tom is actually in negotiations to sell his car to George Wilson, the husband of his mistress. The reader discovers that Wilson plans to use the car to take Myrtle away because he has found out that "something funny" is going on with her. He suspects an affair of some kind, but does not as yet suspect Tom. 


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