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One critic says that Nick's behavior is to be expected in a culture that defines women...
Topic: The Great Gatsby
One critic says that Nick's behavior is to be expected in a culture that defines women as children. In The Great Gatsby, what is meant by cultural "double standard" and how does it affect Nick's attitude toward the sins of Daisy and Gatsby?
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Nick certainly demonstrates that he must have two standards of behavior by which he judges men and women. For, in Chapter One, he announces that he wants the world to be at a "moral attention," and he declares himself as reserving judgment on people. And, in Chapter Three, he asserts that he possesses one of the cardinal virtues because he is "one of the few honest people that I have ever known." Yet, he forgives Jordan Baker her dishonesty,
Dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply--I was casually sorry, and then I forgot.
Also, when he remembers the "something" that was reported about Jordan as her having cheated in a golf tournament, Nick is not especially disturbed.
Nick's descriptions of Tom Buchanan are not so forgiving as he describes his neighbor as having a "supercilious manner" and "a cruel body" and "a gruff husky tenor" voice that conveyed "paternal contempt" and "fractiousness."
When he talks with Daisy, Tom is attentive to her "turbulent emotions" that dominate her, so he asks her some "sedative questions" about her daughter. Likewise, in future encounters with Daisy, Nick is polite; however, he distances himself from her because Daisy really gives him no attention other than to determine what that "something in that voice of hers" is. Finally, Nick determines that her voice is "indiscreet," and Gatsby counters that it is "full of money." At any rate, Nick determines that there is an insincerity and shallowness about Daisy--"perhaps Daisy never went in for amour at all"-- so he does not do much but observe her. Daisy, too, ignores Nick, who has nothing to offer her--no money or social position.
Certainly, Nick concludes that Daisy, who fluctuates between Gatsby and Tom depending upon who wins arguments or exerts more masculine power, is a very shallow person, not worthy of Gatsby as she "tumbled short of his dreams" in Gatsby's "colossal vitality of his illusion." Nick, who finds Daisy's voice "indiscreet," is somewhat repulsed that Gatsby is lured by it:
I think that voice held him most with its fluctuating, feverish warmth because it couldn't be over-dreamed--that voice was a deathless song.
Finally, Nick dismisses Daisy along with her husband as "careless people." Her shallowness and waivering between Gatsby and Tom proves to Nick that she possesses no integrity and her shallow emotions are based solely upon money and masculine power. Her insincerity is in sharp contrast to Gatsby's belief in his grail and his ability to repeat the past. This is why he tells Gatsby, "You're worth the whole damn bunch put together" despite his failings.
Posted by mwestwood on August 26, 2013 at 10:42 PM (Answer #1)
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