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I'd like to know if in the following excerpt from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott...

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coutelle | Valedictorian

Posted April 25, 2013 at 6:05 PM via web

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I'd like to know if in the following excerpt from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, chapter 7, "self consciously" means "embarrassed" or "deliberate": 

Self consciously, with his authoritative arms breaking the way, we pushed through the still gathering crowd, passing a hurried doctor, case in hand, who had been sent for in wild hope half an hour ago.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 25, 2013 at 6:58 PM (Answer #1)

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Returning from New York in his own blue coupe after the heated argument with Gatsby over Daisy in the torrid New York hotel suite, Tom Buchanan ironically notes the wreck at Wilson's by saying,

"Wreck!...That's good.  Wilson'll have a little business at last."

However, as he slows down without intending to stop, Tom notices an intent look upon people's faces. So, "doubtfully," he stops. "There's some bad trouble here," Tom now says.  When he realizes that Myrtle has been hit and killed, Tom's glazed look follows those around him, and Nick remarks,

Watching Tom I saw the wad of muscle back of his shoulder tighten under his coat.

When Wilson sees Tom, he assumes that Tom has killed his wife--"He started up on his tiptoes and would have collapsed to his knees," but Tom catches him. Quickly, Tom tells Wilson that he has not driven the yellow car that he was in earlier, has not seen it all afternoon, and it does not belong to him. As the policeman moves in to get someone to watch Wilson, Tom whispers to Nick, "Let's get out."

Self consciously, with his authoritative arms breaking the way, we pushed through the still gathering crowd....

Indeed, Tom Buchanan is embarrassed. He is embarrassed to be seen near the crime scene, he is embarrassed to leave the woman who loved him so much that she ran out when she thought she saw the car he was in, and, perhaps, he is embarrassed for Daisy and his name, fearing she is closely involved in this accident.

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