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Hello! I'd like to know if in this excerpt of the first chapter of The Great Gatsby,...

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coutelle | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted April 10, 2013 at 7:58 PM via web

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Hello! I'd like to know if in this excerpt of the first chapter of The Great Gatsby, the word "breathlessly," applies to Daisy's voice or to Nick, given that immediately after the narrator evokes Daisy's "breathless words":

For a moment the last sunshine fell with romantic affection upon her glowing face; her voice compelled me forward breathlessly as I listened—then the glow faded, each light deserting her with lingering regret like children leaving a pleasant street at dusk.

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 10, 2013 at 9:15 PM (Answer #1)

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It does seem that in both cases, "breathlessly" describes Daisy's voice and words. Jordan Baker interjects when Daisy is talking about the butler, but Daisy completes the story, concluding that the butler had to give up his previous position. In the next few lines, the "her" refers to Daisy. Therefore, it is Daisy's voice that "compels" Nick "breathlessly." A few lines later, Nick reveals that Daisy was just making superfluous conversation: 

She was only extemporizing, but a stirring warmth flowed from her, as if her heart was trying to come out to you concealed in one of those breathless, thrilling words. 

Nick must realize and sympathize with Gatsby's infatuation because he (Nick) does notice how alluring Daisy can be. Granted, Nick has not idealized Daisy in the way that Gatsby has. But Nick is clearly drawn in by Daisy in moments such as this one. 


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