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Could you please tell me the meaning of "strained sound" in this excerpt of The Greay...

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coutelle | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted April 6, 2013 at 5:13 PM via web

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Could you please tell me the meaning of "strained sound" in this excerpt of The Greay Gatsby, Chapter 5?

"While we admired he brought more and the soft rich heap mounted higher—shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple green and lavender and faint orange, and monograms of Indian blue. Suddenly, with a strained sound Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily."

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 6, 2013 at 7:06 PM (Answer #1)

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In Chapter One, Daisy tells Nick that she has been everywhere and seen everything,

Her eyes falshed around her in a defiant way, rather like Tom's and she laughed with thrilling scorn, "Sophisticated--God, I'm sophisticated."

In light of her early remarks, then, it is certainly ironic that in Chapter Five Daisy should bury her head in Gatsby's shirts and cry about them in a show of maudlin sentimentality. Is she, then, straining to seem moved because Gatsby wants to impress her? Or, is she straining with superficial passion because she is so materialistic?

There is no doubt that Daisy does not measure up to Gatsby's exhilarating passion for his idealized vision of her. Fitzgerald's poetic prose that is always so connotative, therefore, hints with the word strained that the "sophisticated" Daisy is disingenuous.  Moreover, she continues to strain to show emotion as in her maudlin sentimentality she wipes away her tears before a mirror, causing Gatsby to "literally glow" with a "new well-being." Later, she looks out the window at the falling rain, 

...but the darkness had parted in the west, and there was a pink and golden billow of foamyu coulds above the sea.

"Look at that, she whispered, and then after a moment. "I'd like to just get one of those pink clouds and put you in it and push you around."

By the end of this chapter, Nick narrates that "a faint doubt" occurs to Gatsby about his present happiness because Daisy has "tumbled short of his dreams," as his passion predicated upon his dream has been corrupted by the ersatz, or "strained," passion of Daisy. 

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