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I'd like to know why Fitzgerald writes in the chapter eight of The Great Gatsby that...

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coutelle | Valedictorian

Posted August 22, 2013 at 10:25 PM via web

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I'd like to know why Fitzgerald writes in the chapter eight of The Great Gatsby that Daisy has "dark" hair, while in the chapter Eight Daisy says that her daughter, who has "yellowy hair", has "got [her] hair and shape of the face"?

On the last afternoon before he went abroad he sat with Daisy in his arms for a long, silent time. It was a cold fall day with fire in the room and her cheeks flushed. Now and then she moved and he changed his arm a little and once he kissed her dark shining hair. 

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 23, 2013 at 12:23 AM (Answer #1)

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F Scott Fitzgerald was notorious for making edits and changes on his manuscripts up until the final moments of production, and some anomalies (inconsistencies) have been outlined in The Great Gatsby. I am not certain this is one of them, but it might be. 

When we are first introduced to Tom, Daisy, and Jordan Baker, we do get a few words of description about Tom's and Jordan's hair color; we do not get that for Daisy. Instead we get a lengthy (actually two lengthy) descriptions of the most significant thing about Daisy--and it is not her hair color.

I looked back at my cousin who began to ask me questions in her low, thrilling voice. It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again. Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth--but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered "Listen," a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.

In the passage you mention from chapter eight, remember that the room is rather dark and there is a fire burning in the fireplace, which means the light in the room is a bit unnatural. 

On the last afternoon before he went abroad he sat with Daisy in his arms for a long, silent time. It was a cold fall day with fire in the room and her cheeks flushed. Now and then she moved and he changed his arm a little and once he kissed her dark shining hair.

The word "dark" here may or may not mean brunette; it might just as easily mean dark blond. (And do not forget that she is always dressed in white, so anything might seem dark compared to that.) Most people who are quite blond as children find that their hair darkens over time, and that is likely what has happened to Daisy. It is still blond, but it has darkened.

The truth is that we have no perfectly accurate answer to this question. It is a reasonable assumption that her hair is dark blond, and in both major movie productions she is depicted that way. I will remind you that we know everything we need to know about Daisy when we understand the lure of her voice, so the color of her hair is not of primary significance, though your close reading points out a possible discrepancy in this novel. 

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