In The Great Gatsby, how does Gatsby react when he meets Daisy's and Tom's daughter?
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Gatsby has made it his life's work to establish himself financially and win Daisy back from Tom. In his mind, he ideally thinks that he and Daisy are meant for each other. When he finally confronts Daisy and Tom, he actually wants Daisy to tell Tom that she never loved him. Gatsby wants Daisy to sever all ties with Tom and essentially banish the four years she had been with him. So, when Gatsby sees their daughter, Pammy, for the first time, he is brought out of his idealism because Pammy is living proof of Tom and Daisy's relationship. Gatsby had probably denied Pammy's existence because she represents a part of Daisy's life with Tom that could not be erased. Seeing Pammy, Gatsby is probably disheartened because the reality of Tom and Daisy's marriage sinks in more profoundly.
Gatsby and I in turn leaned down and took the small, reluctant hand. Afterward he kept looking at the child with surprise. I don’t think he had ever really believed in its existence before.
To add: You might remember that when Nick tells Gatsby that he can't recreate the past (a common truism), Gatsby answers, "Why, of course you can." The only thing that would truly satisfy Gatsby is getting Daisy back AND erasing her history with Tom. That's why on that afternoon in the Plaza, he insists that Daisy tell Tom she never loved him. She can't do it. Although she seems poised to leave Tom and everything he represents, in the end she can't deny the fact that she, at some point in the past, loved him.
The child is physical proof of this love between Daisy and Tom. When Gatsby meets her (right before the argument in the Plaza hotel), he almost doesn't believe his eyes. Nick, the narrator, says that Gatsby didn't believe the child was real until that very moment.
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