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What is the meaning of the song "Sheik of Araby" in Chapter 4 of The Great Gatsby?

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taxi889 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted June 17, 2012 at 8:54 PM via web

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What is the meaning of the song "Sheik of Araby" in Chapter 4 of The Great Gatsby?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 17, 2012 at 10:49 PM (Answer #1)

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Jordan Baker explains Gatsby's earlier life and relationship with Daisy to Nick, and as she reaches the end of the story, they hear girls in Central Park singing the popular song "The Sheik of Araby."

"I'm the Sheik of Araby.
Your love belongs to me.
At night when you're are asleep
Into your tent I’ll creep--"

"It was a strange coincidence," I said.

"But it wasn't a coincidence at all."

"Why not?"

"Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay."
(Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, mrbye.com)

The song is a passing metaphor for Gatsby's feelings for Daisy, and his inability to let her go after she is married and he hasn't seen her for years. Gatsby believes that Daisy's love "belongs to him," and that she is meant to be with him instead of with Tom. As he has become independently wealthy, he believes that he can make her love him again through his reputation and through his money; his efforts to court her through his friends is underhanded, done without Daisy's knowledge, "while she is asleep." This attempt to insert himself into her life -- "creeping into her tent" is ultimately brought to light by their various emotional outbursts and by Tom's suspicions; Gatsby, the "Sheik," cannot be stealthy any longer, and so his original plan to quietly court Daisy fails.


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