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Could you please tell me why Miss Baker says "You ought to live in California" in the...

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coutelle | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted June 22, 2013 at 10:31 PM via web

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Could you please tell me why Miss Baker says "You ought to live in California" in the first chapter of The Great Gatsby?

“Well, these books are all scientific,” insisted Tom, glancing at her impatiently. “This fellow has worked out the whole thing. It's up to us who are the dominant race to watch out or these other races will have control of things.”

“We've got to beat them down,” whispered Daisy, winking ferociously toward the fervent sun.

You ought to live in California—” began Miss Baker but Tom interrupted her by shifting heavily in his chair.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 22, 2013 at 11:39 PM (Answer #1)

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The reference to "California" is Jordan's approach to Tom's discussion that advances White Supremacy.  Jordan referring to California is part "other- worldly" and partly dismissive.  California is seen as about as far away from the protected world of wealth and privilege that people like Tom, Daisy, and Jordan inhabit.  Their worlds are spent moving amongst wealthy Eastern circles in the East.  Nick describes Jordan and Daisy as women who act as if they are princesses in an unreal world.  They seem to be other- worldly, themselves.  It is for this reason why Jordan references California, as it is so removed from her own setting.  Tom's rant about the "dangers" that White society faces are about as unreal to her as anything else, hence the reference for Tom to "live in California."  At the same time, the reference to as far a removed place as California is a direct mention of the "scientific"  works that Tom has referenced.  Given its complete geographic diversity from the East Coast that situates the world that Tom, Daisy, and Jordan inhabit, California is viewed as "out there," a statement Daisy is making about Tom's claims of scientific validity.  Her California reference is a dismissive one, indicating her lack of interest in what Tom sees or claims to see as significant.

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