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What is the meaning of "stunned tribute" in this excerpt from the first chapter of The...

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coutelle | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted June 23, 2013 at 7:07 PM via web

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What is the meaning of "stunned tribute" in this excerpt from the first chapter of The Great Gatsby?

"At any rate Miss Baker's lips fluttered, she nodded at me almost imperceptibly and then quickly tipped her head back again—the object she was balancing had obviously tottered a little and given her something of a fright. Again a sort of apology arose to my lips. Almost any exhibition of complete self sufficiency draws a stunned tribute from me."

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 24, 2013 at 12:29 AM (Answer #1)

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After Nick enters the resplendent Buchanan mansion, he walks through a vaulted hallway into a rose-colored room with a massive couch on which two young women dressed in white who are "buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon." Nick remarks that the younger of the two is a stranger to him and she appears to be balancing something upon her chin. Of course, this is a haughty expression because she does not even acknowledge his presence.  But, Daisy rises and welcomes Nick, affectedly declaring that she is "p-paralyzed with happiness." Daisy murmurs that the other girl is Miss Baker.

With an almost imperceptible nod, Miss Baker acknowledges Nick's presence; then, again, she tilts back her head.  With sarcasm about her haughtiness, Nick observes,

the object she was balancing had obviously tottered a little and given her something of a fright.

Impressed by her "complete self-sufficiency,"--her complete arrogance, that is--Nick remarks that Miss Baker has drawn from him "a stunned tribute." In other words, Nick is amazed at Jordan Baker's conceit, which he calls "self-sufficiency"; and, so, he acknowledges this egotism of Miss Baker with a "stunned," or astonished, "tribute," or recognition of its exaggerated level.

 

 

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